Tuesday, September 28, 2021

sop merah

Sop merah is comfort food in my family. It’s a type of Indonesian chicken soup with sweet and sour taste. The red colour comes partially from the juice of carrots and tomatoes, but mostly from the sweet and sour sauce. If I were to make a comparison to other cuisine, it would be like the Italian minestrone soup in that it is tomato based soup, but it’s also like Korean budae jjigae 부대찌개 in that it has canned spam and frankfurts in it. But it’s not really an exact comparison. You just have to try it for yourself.

When I cook this, I always cook a massive amount. Like spagbol, I eat what I want and freeze the rest for those days I just can't be bothered to cook.

Since I blogged about this last, I’ve made a few changes to make it easier but still authentic.

  • 1kg chicken drumsticks, skin off
  • 1 bunch spring onions, half bunch left whole, the other half bunch is sliced
  • 1kg carrot, half is juiced (pulp removed), the other half is cut into 1cm pieces
  • 1kg tomatoes, juiced (pulp removed)
  • 500g small swiss brown mushrooms, quartered
  • 250g frankfurt sausages, cut 1cm pieces and pan-fried
  • 2 cans of spam (I like the "less sodium" type), cut into 1cm pieces and pan-fried
  • 3 of 240g Lee Kum Kee sweet & sour sauce
  • Salt, white pepper to taste
  • Vinegar, sweet soy sauce/sugar to taste

Optional fried prawn balls:
  • 500g prawns, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tsp salt

  1. Boil the chicken drumsticks in an 8L stock pot with half a bunch of whole spring onions, tomato juice, carrot juice and water to cover. Season with 2 tbsp salt, 2 tbsp white pepper.
  2. After 20 minutes of boiling, add the carrots and swiss brown mushrooms. Boil for another 20 minutes.
  3. Strain the chicken and shred it to bite-sized pieces, and add it back to the broth.
  4. Add all the sweet & sour sauce, the pan-fried spam and sausages to the broth, wait until it comes back to the boil. The broth should be watery, if it’s too thick you need to add more water. In my 8L stock pot, with all ingredients inside, I added water to the brim.
  5. Taste if the sweet and sourness is just right. If it needs more sourness, add vinegar. If more sweetness is required, add max 3 tbsp of ABC kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), and sugar if you need more sweetness.
  6. Garnish with spring onions and serve with steamed jasmine rice

Optional prawn balls:
  1. Mix ingredients for prawn balls.
  2. Shaped into sausages and deep-fry in oil until golden
  3. Cut into 1cm pieces and add them to the soup before serving.
If I'm perfectly honest, the prawn balls most often than not I don't bother with. It adds another level of specialness to the soup. But, sometimes it is just one steps too many.

Also, with the sweet and sour sauce, I've tried a few different brands, but the one that is to my taste is the Lee Kum Kee brand. Feel free to use any brand you like.

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