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Glossary

Beef Meatballs

Beef Meatballs

Beef meatballs are sold in Asian stores in the freezer. There are many different brands sold in the stores. There are also many different types. Some sell it with the tendon meat. Some are just regular meat. So, when you buy it, please pay attention to the type. The stores also sell pork, fish, and shrimp meatballs. Fish meatballs might taste a little bit fishy for some people. So, don't buy it if you don't like fish. I found that people normally have more tolerant with beef meatballs than fish or shrimp meatballs, except vegetarians.

These meatballs are good for any Chinese noodle soups. In Indonesia, you can find it in meatball noodle soup (mie bakso) which is popular in Indonesia and originated from China. Some restaurants give you an option to choose beef or fish meatballs. In addition, beef meatballs are also used in bakmi goreng (stir fried noodles) and nasi goreng (fried rice). Instead of using chicken or other meat, a lot of restaurants use chopped beef meatballs.

Black Bean Garlic Sauce

Black Bean Garlic Sauce

Black Bean Garlic Sauce is made of fermented black bean. You can use fermented black bean and make the sauce yourself or you can buy a jar of Black Bean Garlic Sauce. Some people like to make it from scratch since they think it tastes better. For short cut, you can buy the sauce in a jar. I use it to make Stir Fried Chicken with Black Bean Sauce. In addition, if you want to add flavor to your Stir Fried Noodles, you can add the sauce when you saute the garlic. You can add it when you make chicken wing sauce as well. It is also good to make stir fried vegetable dish. As you can see, there are many uses of this sauce and it will add flavor to your dishes. However, don't add too much since it has strong flavor and can overpower. In addition, there are many different brands of Black Bean Garlic Sauce and some of them are saltier than others. So, that's another reason not to add too much.

Bumbu Gado-Gado (Peanut Sauce Dressing)

Bumbu Gado-Gado (Peanut Sauce Dressing)

To save time cooking a dish, Indonesian food companies came up with an idea to make ready made Bumbu Gado-Gado (Peanut Sauce Dressing) that you would normally have to make it yourself from scratch. This ready made Bumbu Gado-Gado tastes good like the one you make from scratch. So, I normally just use it whenever I make Gado-Gado (Indonesia Salad with Peanut Sauce Dressing). This saves me time. There are 3 different packaging types of Bumbu Gado-Gado: jar, box, and rectangle shape wrapped in plastic. The one shown in the picture above is the rectangle shape wrapped in plastic. Both the ones sold in a box and rectangle shape wrapped in plastic are dry solid like a brick. The one in a jar is not in dry solid form. Please follow the instructions on the package when you are ready to make it. You can add more sugar, salt, or lime juice to your taste if you find it lacking in seasoning.

You are probably wondering where you can find it in Asian stores in US. It is normally placed where the stores put other Indonesian items.

Candlenuts (Kemiri)

Candlenuts (Kemiri)

Candlenuts (kemiri) are used in Indonesian and Malaysian cooking. They look like macadamia nuts and taste almost the same. However, you cannot eat candlenuts raw because they are mildly toxic. So, don't let your kids eat them raw. You can find them in Asian stores that sell Indonesian stuffs.

Chayote

Chayote

Chayote is called Labu Siam in Indonesia. It is used in many Indonesian dishes, such as Ketupat Sayur (Rice Cake and Vegetables in Coconut Milk Sauce), Sayur Asam (Vegetables Tamarind Soup), Gado Gado (Vegetables Salad with Peanut Dressing), etc. It is considered as fruit since it has seed in the middle. In Indonesia, it is normally cooked before it is consumed. The cooking method can be stir frying or boiling. Before it is cooked, the skin is peeled off and the seed is removed. The skin is very thin and you can use vegetable peeler to peel it. Without any seasoning, it tastes bland.

You can find Chayote in Asian or Mexican stores. In US, you can also find it in Walmart.

Chinese Long Doughnut

Chinese Long Doughnut

Chinese Long Doughnut is also called Chinese doughnut, Youtiao, Chinese fried breadstick, Char Kway/Cakwe/Kueh/Kuay (in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore), Chinese cruller, and Chinese oil stick. It looks like a breadstick that is fried. Texture-wise it looks like doughnut, i.e. it is not dense, unlike bread. The way it is made, you can separate it lengthwise into two if you prefer. It is eaten in China, East Asia, and Southeast Asia and eaten with rice congee or rice porridge for breakfast. In US, you can find it in Asian grocery store in the freezer. If your Asian store is big, they also sell it fresh and can be found on weekend. If you buy it fresh, you can warm it up in the oven at 275 degree for about 1-2 min. If you buy it frozen, you can warm it up in the oven longer, about 5 min without thawing it or you can follow the directions on the package on how to warm it. For either frozen or fresh bought Chinese long doughnut, do not put it too long in the oven since it can make it very hard.

I recently found another use of Chinese long doughnut. It is good for dessert! It has a similar texture as fried scone and if you have fried scone before, you know you can eat it with honey butter syrup. To make honey butter, melt the butter and mix it with honey. You can then dip Chinese long doughnut in it. It is delicious.

Curry Paste

Curry Paste

Curry was originated from Indian Subcontinenet. From there, it spread to other countries, especially Southeast Asian countries. Each country has its own version of curry and in each country, there are many types of curry paste. In US, curry dishes are often found in Thai restaurants. In fact, that's probably how Americans became familiar with curry dishes. The curry paste you find in Asian stores in US is normally from Thailand. There are several types you can find: Yellow Curry Paste, Red Curry Paste, Green Curry Paste, Panang Curry Paste, etc. You can easily find Mae Ploy brand in your Asian stores. However, you can also find Thai Kitchen brand in your regular American grocery store in the Asian aisle.

Dried Bean Sheets

Dried Bean Sheets

Dried Bean Sheets are also called dried bean curd sheets. They are made from soy milk. When soy milk is cooked, it will form a film on top. This film is then lifted off and dried into sheets. The dried sheets become dried bean sheets or dried bean curd sheets. Instead of drying the film as sheet, it could also be rolled into long stick before drying and the product is called dried bean curd sticks or dried bean sticks. It takes longer to rehydrate these sticks. Thus, I prefer to use dried bean sheets instead. However, if you cannot find dried bean sheets, you can use the sticks instead. They are both available in Asian stores. The Asian stores in your area may sell the fresh version of the bean curd sheets if you are lucky enough to live in a city where it has a good Asian store. The sheets are used a lot in Chinese and Japanese cooking and it can be a protein substitute because it is high in protein and low in fat. Thus, Chinese vegetarians use it in their cooking. To use it, it will need to be rehydrated by soaking it in the water. To rehydrate it, place the sheet in a deep baking dish big enough to fit the sheet and pour water into the baking dish so that it is completely submerged in the water. It takes about 30 min for the sheet to soften. Once it has softened, take it out from the baking dish and rinse it under the water. Depending on how you want to use it, you can then thinly slice it with a knife or cut it using scissors to the size you want. If you use dried bean curd sticks, you will need to soak it for at least several hours or overnight. You could also soak it in boiling water to speed up the process so that you won’t need to wait overnight to use it.

Dried Black Fungus

Dried Black Fungus

Dried Black Fungus is edible wild mushrooms that have been dried. It is used in many Chinese dishes. It can be found in Asian stores. Store it in a cold and dry place. To use it, it will need to be rehydrated by soaking it in the water. If you use cold water, it may take an hour to get it soft. If you use boiling water, it takes less than 30 min. When it is rehydrated, it will expand and get larger in size. So, keep that in mind when using it in cooking. After rehydrated, it will be soft and you can then slice it. It has chewy and jelly like texture after cooking. It has no flavor but it absorbs the seasoning you use when you cook it.

Dried Shiitake Mushrooms

Dried Shiitake Mushrooms

Dried Shiitake Mushrooms is shiitake mushrooms that have been dried. They are used in many Chinese and Japanese stir fry and soup dishes. They can be found in Asian stores and have more flavor and stronger aroma than the fresh shiitake mushrooms. Store the package in a cool and dry place. To use them, rinse them under the water and rehydrate them by soaking them in the water. I normally use boiling water to cut the time although people told me they will lose some flavor if they are soaked in a boiling water. Using boiling water, it will take about an hour to get them soft. Soaking them in cold water will take a day to get them soft. When soaking them, make sure the mushrooms are put upside down, i.e. the stem facing up. That way, the mushrooms will be submerged in the water. The stem will not be used because it is hard and tough to eat. Once the mushrooms have softened, cut the stem off from the mushroom and throw it out. If you are going to use on a stir fry, dry the mushrooms first using paper or kitchen towel so that they won't splatter during cooking. If using them in the soup, you don't need to dry them. You can then slice the mushrooms and they are ready for cooking. The soaking water of the mushrooms is full of flavor. This water can be used as soup broth.

Dried Shrimp

Dried Shrimp

Dried Shrimp is shrimp that has been sun-dried. It is used in Asian cooking to add more depth of flavor. It smells and tastes strong. So, a little goes a long way. Because of its strong flavor and smell, many people, especially who didn't grow up eating it, may not like it. In Indonesia, it is called Ebi or Udang Kering and used in many dishes. Since it is dried, it is very hard to eat or cook it as it is. You have to reconstitute it to make it softer. So, it is soaked in hot water for several minutes and drained after that. You can then use it for cooking. You can find dried shrimp in Asian stores. It is normally sold in several different sizes. My regular Asian stores normally carry XL size and thus, that's the size I always get.

Fresh Rice Stick Noodle

Fresh Rice Stick Noodle

There are 2 types of rice stick noodle sold in the stores: fresh and dried. You can find dried rice stick noodle on the shelf at the grocery store since it doesn't need to be kept in the fridge. Fresh rice stick noodle has to be kept in the fridge. You can find dried rice stick noodle in your regular grocery stores at the Asian section. The fresh rice stick noodle can be found at your Asian store in the fridge. There are many different brands of rice stick noodle sold in the stores. It doesn't matter which brand you get in the store. Follow the instructions on the package on how to cook the noodle.

Fried Onions

Fried Onions

Fried Onions is called Bawang Goreng in Indonesia. In Indonesia, it is made of shallots which are sliced thin and fried. It is easier to find shallots in Indonesia and thus, people use shallots rather than onions. A lot of Indonesian food uses Bawang Goreng as a finishing touch since it gives a distinct flavor and texture to the meal. It is sprinkled on top of soup, soto, rice, congee, ketoprak, etc. The list is long. My mom used to make it from scratch in big batches. Grocery stores nowadays sell it, so you don't have spend time to make it yourself. You can find it in Asian stores. If you cannot find it, you can use French Fried Onions sold in your regular grocery stores. However, the texture is different.

Glass Noodles (Bean Thread)

Glass Noodles (Bean Thread)

Glass noodles are also called bean thread noodles, cellophane noodles, crystal noodles, or bean thread vermicelli. After cooking, they look transparent and hence, the name of glass noodles. They are made of starch and water sold in dried form. Each package has several separate bundles of glass noodles so that you can control the portion. To cook them, follow the package instructions. You can find them in the Asian aisle of your regular grocery stores. Do not confuse them with vermicelli or rice vermicelli which is made of rice. Rice vermicelli looks white after cooking and is not transparent. Glass noodles soak up flavors better during cooking than rice vermicelli.

Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce is used a lot in Chinese cuisine as dipping sauce, stir fries, and meat glaze. It is thick and tastes sweet and slightly salty. In Vietnam, it is used as a condiment in pho soup. It can be added in the bowl of pho soup or as a dipping sauce for the meat in the soup. It is also used as a dipping sauce for summer rolls or fresh spring rolls. I normally use it as a dipping sauce for the meat and bean sprouts of my pho soup.

Imitation Canton Style Egg Noodle

Imitation Canton Style Egg Noodle

Imitation Canton Style Egg Noodle is the type of noodles I normally use in making noodle soup and even stir fried noodles (Bakmi Goreng) if I cannot find fresh egg noodles. You can find it in Asian stores. The noodles have no after taste and thus, I like to use them. The noodles are sold in several bundles that have been portioned. So, 1 bundle is for 1 person. To cook the noodles, follow the package directions.

Kaffir Lime Leaves

Kaffir Lime Leaves

Kaffir lime leaves are used a lot in many Indonesian dishes. You can find them fresh or frozen in Asian stores. Not all Asian stores sell them but the ones specializing in Vietnamese ingredients normally have them. The leaf has citrusy smell. To use the leaf, tear the edge of the leaf or along the rib to release the flavor during cooking. Discard the leaf before serving because it is tough and fibrous if eaten as a whole. However, if you finely chopped it with knife or in food processor, it becomes edible. If you cannot find the leaves in your Asian stores, substitute them with lime zests.

Ketupat (Rice Cake)

Ketupat (Rice Cake)

Ketupat (Rice Cake) is a staple in Indonesia during Eid ul-Fitr celebration. It is served with Ketupat Sayur dish (Rice Cake and Vegetables in Coconut Milk Sauce). Ketupat is rice that is packed inside woven palm leaf package. The woven palm leaf package is shaped like a diamond and raw rice is filled in it. It is then immersed and cooked in water for an hour or so until the rice is cooked and set in the package. Once it is set, the package is cut open and the rice is cut to pieces according to your preferred size. In Indonesia, couple days prior to Eid ul-Fitr you can find vendors selling empty ketupat. People buy them and cook rice in it which will then be served during Eid ul-Fitr. You cannot find empty ketupat in US. However, there is a substitute for it. In my Asian store, it sells ketupat (rice cake) made in Malaysia that uses plastic bag as the package for the rice (please see picture above for the brand). Inside the bag, there is raw rice. So, you just need to immerse the plastic package in the water and boil it until it is set. It is very convenient. If you cannot find it in your store, you can either skip it or just use regular rice because ketupat is basically rice that is packed and compressed. You can also try to make lontong (compressed rice). Lontong is another rice staple in Indonesia as well. Instead of using woven palm leaf package, the rice is put inside the banana leaf and the banana leaves are then rolled and closed at the end so that the package looks like a small log. To make it easier to cook, I normally use cooked rice and packed it inside the banana leaves. I then cook it in water until the rice is set. However, I found it is easier to use Aluminum foil to pack the rice rather than banana leaves. So, I normally use Al foil.

Pandan Essence or Paste

Pandan Essence or Paste

Pandan leaves are used in many Indonesian and Southeast Asian cooking. It has distinct flavor and aroma. Outside of Southeast Asia, it might be hard to find it. Thus, Pandan Essence or Paste is a life saver when you cannot find the real thing. The essence also comes with the pandan flavor you normally get from pandan leaves. You can find pandan essence in Asian stores that sells Indonesian items. If your Asian stores has an aisle that sells Indonesian items, you can most likely find it there. The amount of pandan essence you use determines how dark the green color will be. So, adjust the amount based on whether you want it pale green or darker green. If you cannot find pandan essence, you can substitute it with green food coloring.

Pandan Leaves

Pandan Leaves

Pandan leaves are used in many dishes in Indonesia, both savory and sweet. You can find them either fresh or frozen in Asian stores, especially the ones specializing in Vietnamese ingredients. It has grassy aroma. If you cannot find it, you can replace it with pandan essence for dessert applications. However, do not use pandan essence for savory dishes because it will make your dishes very green and scary looking. Skip it in this case or you can use bay leaves, instead. To use it, cut it into 2.5" long and make a knot for each cut. That way, it will be easier to handle during cooking and discard after cooking.

Pickled Sour Mustard

Pickled Sour Mustard

Pickled Sour Mustard can be found in Asian stores. It is made of mustard green that is pickled in brine liquid. It tastes sour and slightly salty. To use it in cooking, make sure you rinse the leaves thoroughly including in between the leaves. Otherwise, it would be very sour and salty.

Puff Tofu or Deep Fried Tofu

Puff Tofu or Deep Fried Tofu

Puff tofu is sold deep fried in Asian stores. It is like regular tofu but the inside is not dense. The inside is puffy and light and like sponge. The shape is normally cube. If you cannot find puff tofu, you can use deep fried tofu. You can find it in Asian stores. It is like regular tofu and has dense inside but it is cut into triangle shape and deep fried. The picture shown above is deep fried tofu, rather than puff tofu. In term of the outside appearance, both are deep fried but as mentioned, puff tofu has cube shape.

Rice Stick

Rice Stick

There are 2 types of rice stick noodle sold in the stores: fresh and dried. The picture above shows dried rice stick. The fresh rice stick noodle can be found at your Asian store in the fridge since it has to be kept in the fridge. You can find dried rice stick noodle on the shelf at the grocery store since it doesn't need to be kept in the fridge. Dried rice stick noodle can be found in your regular grocery stores at the Asian section. However, your regular grocery stores normally only sell 1 size of dried rice stick noodle. The ones you find in Asian stores have many different sizes from S to XL since each size has its own use. Pad Thai or Pho normally uses M size while Kwetiau (Kwetiaw), Char Kway Teow, or Pad See Ew uses XL size. There are many different brands of rice stick noodle sold in the stores. It doesn't matter which brand you get in the store. Follow the instructions on the package on how to cook the noodle.

Rice Vermicelli

Rice Vermicelli

Rice Vermicelli is also called vermicelli. It is made of rice. After cooking, they look white and are not transparent. Don't confuse it with bean thread, glass noodles, or cellophane noodles. Bean thread or cellophane becomes transparent after cooking and hence, the name of glass noodles. Each package sold in the store normally has several separate sheets so that you can control the portion. To cook them, follow the package instructions. You can find them in the Asian aisle of your regular grocery stores.

Sambal Oelek

Sambal Oelek

Sambal means chili paste in Indonesian language. Oelek (ulek) means grind in the mortar. So, sambal oelek means ground chili paste. Before food processor being invented, Indonesians use mortar to make chili paste. It is like Mexicans use mortar to make guacamole.

Sambal oelek sold in US is made by Huy Fong out in CA. This is the same company that makes sriracha. You can find sambal oelek at the Asian store or the Asian aisle of you regular grocery store.

I use sambal oelek as a replacement for fresh chili peppers since it saves me time from having to grind the peppers. In Indonesia, red Thai chili pepper is used in a lot of cooking. Unfortunately, it is hard to find it in Asian store and if they sell it, it is very expensive. Jalapeno peppers can be used as a replacement; however, you cannot replace the red color of red chili pepper with Jalapeno. Red color makes your food look more appetizing. That's another reason why I use sambal oelek. I only use Huy Fong brand for sambal oelek since it uses red chili peppers and no garlic or shrimp paste and thus, I can get the color and taste I want without the added flavors I don't want. You can also use red chili flakes in place of sambal oelek or red chili peppers if the recipe calls the peppers to be cooked.

Shrimp Snack

Shrimp Snack

Shrimp Snack can be used as a substitute for shrimp chips (kerupuk udang). The reason I prefer it is because it is already cooked. If you buy kerupuk udang (Shrimp chips), you will need to fry it before you can consume it. You can find shrimp snack in the snack section of Asian stores.

Soto Ayam Instant Seasoning Mix

Soto Ayam Instant Seasoning Mix

To save time cooking a dish, Indonesian food companies came up with an idea to make instant seasoning mix which is used to replace the spice paste you would normally have to make it yourself. I have seen seasoning mix for Rendang, Soto Ayam, Nasi Goreng, Gulai, Opor Ayam, etc. Some of the seasoning mix taste good but some don't, so I skip the one that doesn't taste good and make the dish from scratch. One that tastes good and tastes similar to what you will get if you make it from scratch is Soto Ayam Instant Seasoning Mix. I found there were 2 brands of this seasoning mix. One is from Indo Food and the other is from Bamboe. Both are good and you can use either one of them if you are pressed with time. Follow the instructions on the package on how to use it.

Spring Roll Wrappers

Spring Roll Wrappers

There are many different spring roll wrappers sold in the stores. However, I always use the paper thin ones. Please see above image for the brand I use. It is thin and has smooth surface. Because of the thin skin, it becomes crispy when it is fried. I like my spring rolls crispy. That's the reason why I always use the above spring roll wrappers. In addition, it is also bigger, so it makes it easier to wrap the filling inside it.

I was asked many times about the difference between spring rolls and egg rolls. Spring rolls have smoother skin while egg rolls have texture skin, so you see small bumps on the egg roll skin after frying them. However, don't confuse the rice paper spring roll skins with spring roll skins. Rice paper spring roll skins don't need to be fried while the spring roll skins need to be fried before serving. They are supposed to be dipped in warm water to soften them before being folded over the filling. After you fill them up with your choice of filling, they are ready to eat without frying the skin. Of course, if your filling uses meat, you must cook the meat first before putting in on the rice paper. Rice paper spring roll skins originated from Vietnam and in US, some restaurants call the food as summer rolls or fresh spring rolls. In Indonesia, the skins used are spring roll skins. There is no egg roll skins.

Always store the spring roll wrappers in the freezer because they are perishable. Thaw them in the fridge if you are going to use them the next day or you can thaw them on the kitchen counter for several hours. If you have unused ones after opening the bag, make sure you put the bag inside a ziploc bag and store it back in the freezer.

Sweet Chili Sauce

Sweet Chili Sauce

Sweet chili sauce tastes sweet, as indicated by the name, and slightly sour. It doesn't taste hot and is normally used as a condiment for spring rolls or egg rolls. It can be found at Asian grocery store or the Asian aisle in your regular grocery store. I use it as a dipping sauce for cucumber and the cucumber goes well to complement the spring/egg rolls and corn fritters.

Sweet Soy Sauce

Sweet Soy Sauce

Sweet soy sauce (kecap manis) is soy sauce that tastes sweet. The color is dark brown and it is more syrupi and thicker than the regular soy sauce. It is a popular condiment in Indonesia. People drizzle it on top of chicken satay, soto ayam, ketoprak, etc. It is also used a lot in Indonesian cooking as a marinade, sauce, etc. You could find it in most of Asian grocery stores.

If you cannot find it, you can make it yourself by mixing 1/4 cup of regular soy sauce with 1/4 cup of brown sugar and boiling them at medium heat until the brown sugar dissolved.

Sweetened Red Bean Paste

Sweetened Red Bean Paste

Sweetened Red Bean Paste is widely used in Asia to make desserts, such as Sesame Seed Balls, Mochi, Chinese Mooncakes, etc. You can make them from scratch or you can just buy it in a can. Most Asian stores sell them. So, it is really convenient to get it from the stores.

Tauco

Tauco

Tauco (Salted Soya-Beans Paste) is fermented soybean paste. It is used in Indonesia, especially in Sunda (West Java area), Java, and Jakarta. It is made by boiling, grinding, and fermenting soybeans. It is fermented by using flour. The resulting soy paste is then soaked in salt water and sun-dried for several weeks. In Indonesia, it is used in stir fried dishes. I use Super Tauco from Kokita. They also sell variation of Tauco such as Sambal Tauco, Tauco Manis, etc. I prefer to use Super Tauco since it has no added chili peppers, sugar, etc. You can normally find it in large Asian stores where they sell Indonesian stuffs. If you cannot find Indonesian's Tauco, you can substitute it with Thai's Salted or Fermented Soybean Paste (Tao-jiao). Since tauco has been salted, you may want to go easy on the salt.


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