How To Make Kecap Manis (Indonesian Sweet Soy Sauce) - Quick Version
How to Make Kecap Manis
Kecap manis (also spelled "ketjap manis") is a sweetened, thick soy sauce commonly used as an ingredient and condiment in Indonesian cuisine. If you cannot find this condiment in your grocery store or don't want to purchase a large bottle of it, you can make your own version at home using the stove or microwave.
Makes 2 cups (500 ml)
1 cup (250 ml) soy sauce
1 cup (250 ml) brown sugar, palm sugar, or molasses
1/2 cup (125 ml) water
1-inch (2.5-cm) piece ginger or galangal root (optional)
1 garlic clove (optional)
1 star anise pod (optional)
Pick a sweetener.White granulated sugar lacks the depth of flavor needed for this recipe, so your best choices are brown sugar, palm sugar, or molasses.
- Palm sugar (also called Indonesian palm sugar, gula jawa, or gula merah) is the most authentic but it is harder to find in standard grocery stores. This is the preferred option if you're able to find it, and you can use it in either granulated or liquid form.
- Brown sugar and molasses are both good substitutes for palm sugar, so you should use whichever you prefer or have available. You can even mix-and-match by adding 1/2 cup (125 ml) brown sugarand1/2 cup (125 ml) molasses.
Consider some different seasoning options.You can create a flavor similar to the taste of real kecap manis by using nothing but soy sauce, sugar, and water, but using additional seasonings can enhance the flavor and make it even more authentic.
- Note that this recipe recommends a combination of ginger (or galangal root), garlic, and star anise.
- Other spice options can include fresh curry leaves, cinnamon, and red chili pepper.
Prepare your desired seasoning ingredients.The ginger must be peeled and grated. The garlic should be minced or crushed.
- Use a vegetable peeler to shave the skin off the ginger or galangal root. After peeling the vegetable, drag it across the surface of a box grater to tear it into large shreds.
- Alternatively, you can cut the ginger or galangal root into discs that are 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick.
- Quickly smash the garlic clove with a cutting board or the side of a broad kitchen knife. Remove the loosened skin and use the crushed garlic as it is or mince it with a sharp, smooth knife.
Prepare a bowl of ice water.Fill a large bowl with cold water and drop four to six ice cubes inside. Set this bowl of ice water aside until later.
- Note that this step is only necessary if you plan on using the stovetop cooking method. You do not need to prepare any ice water if you plan on making the kecap manis in your microwave.
- Select a bowl that is large enough to hold the saucepan you'll be using if you plan on using the stovetop cooking method instead of the microwave cooking method.
- Only fill the bowl halfway with water and ice. Do not fill it to the top.
- Keep the bowl near your stove as you proceed.
Stovetop Cooking Method
Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan.Stir the two ingredients together in a heavy, small saucepan.
Heat until the sugar dissolves.Place the saucepan on your stove and set the burner to medium-high heat. Bring the contents to a boil, stirring occasionally as it heats up.
- Stirring the mixture as it heats up promotes even heat distribution and will encourage the sugar to dissolve more swiftly.
- Scrape any sugar or syrup from the sides of the pan, pushing it down into the rest of the hot mixture.
Cook until the syrup darkens.Stop stirring the mixture once it reaches a boil. Let it cook undisturbed for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the color changes to a deep amber.
- Keep the saucepan uncovered as the syrup simmers.
Rest the saucepan in the ice water.Quickly remove the saucepan from the stove and sit the bottom in ice water for 30 seconds.
- After 30 seconds pass, remove the saucepan from the ice water and place it on a heat-resistant surface.
- Dunking the bottom of the saucepan in ice water stops the cooking process and prevents the syrup from becoming any hotter than it should become.
- Do not allow any water from the bowl to get into the pan of syrup.
Add the soy sauce and seasonings.Place the soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and star anise in the saucepan of semi-cooled syrup, stirring gently to combine.
- Work carefully as you add the other ingredients. Even though the syrup is partially cooled, it can still cause a mild burn if it splashes onto your bare skin.
Return the saucepan to the stove.Cook the contents on medium-high heat, bringing them to a simmer but not a full boil.
- Stir the mixture occasionally as it heats up.
Simmer gently.Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Keep the saucepan uncovered as the mixture simmers.
- Stir the mixture occasionally during this time.
Remove from heat.Take the saucepan off the stove again and place it on your heat-resistant surface. Allow it to cool at room temperature until the sauce reaches room temperature.
- Consider loosely placing a lid, upside-down plate, or towel over the saucepan as the sauce cools. Doing so will prevent dust and debris from falling into the sauce.
- When prepared using the stove, finished kecap manis should be the consistency of a thick syrup. It will also continue to thicken as it cools.
Microwave Cooking Method
Combine the sugar, water, and soy sauce in a microwave-safe bowl.Mix well until evenly distributed.
- The bowl should be able to hold a minimum of 4 cups (1L), even though this capacity is nearly twice as much as needed to hold the ingredients at room temperature. The extra space will help prevent any overflow from escaping into the microwave as the mixture heats up.
Microwave on medium power for 30 to 40 seconds.Set the microwave to 50-percent power and place the sugar mixture inside.Cook uncovered for 30 to 40 seconds, or until the sugar starts to melt.
- The sugar should not be completely melted at this point.
- If you use molasses instead of sugar, note that the molasses should look notably thinner than it did before being heated.
Add the seasonings.Place the ginger, garlic, and star anise in the hot mixture. Stir well until the new ingredients are evenly incorporated.
- Work carefully. The contents of the dish will be hot at this point and may cause a mild burn if they splash onto your bare skin.
Microwave for another 10 to 20 seconds.Return the bowl to the microwave and the mixture for another 10 to 20 seconds on medium (50-percent) power.
- After this second round, the sauce should look notably thin and there should no longer be any visible chunks of sugar remaining. There may, however, be individual granules of sugar floating around in the syrup.
Stir well.Remove the dish and stir it well using a spoon or whisk. Continue stirring until all of the sugar is completely dissolved.
- All of the sugar should be dissolved. This includes both large clumps and any individual granules.
- If the sugar is not fully dissolved after you mix it for 60 to 90 seconds, return the dish to the microwave and cook it for another 10 to 20 seconds at medium power before stirring it again.
- Since the syrup never quite boils when you use a microwave, the finished kecap manis will not be as thick when prepared using this method. The taste will remain accurate, however, and the sauce will thicken slightly as it stands.
Storage and Use
Strain the solid ingredients.Pour the kecap manis through a colander or strainer with wide gaps. The sticky, thick syrup will take its time passing through, but all of the actual sauce should eventually make it to the other side.
- The solid ingredients like the star anise, garlic, and ginger will be strained out.
- Alternatively, you can fish the solid ingredients out with a fork or spoon instead of passing the sauce through a strainer.
Pour into a glass jar.Transfer the strained sauce to a non-reactive, non-permeable jar with a lid. A glass jar usually works well for this purpose.
- If you plan to keep the sauce for more than a week, you should make sure that the jar has been thoroughly sterilized in scalding hot water before using it.
Refrigerate overnight before use.Place the lid on the jar and keep the sauce in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.
- Letting the sauce rest gives it a chance to mellow. The flavors will be more thoroughly blended together, and no one flavor should be able to overpower the others.
- After refrigerating the sauce overnight, it is ready to use.
Store extra in the refrigerator or freezer.If you do not use all of the kecap manis, you can keep it covered and refrigerated for as many as two to four weeks.
- If you intend to keep the sauce for a longer period of time, store it in your freezer. When sealed and frozen, this kecap manis should last for up to six months.
Things You'll Need
Small saucepanORmicrowave-safe dish
Glass jar with lid
Sources and Citations
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