Dish: Bakso (Beef Meatball Soup)
Cooking Time: 2 hours
Best for: weekend lunch / dinner
- Asian beef balls (can be found in the frozen section of Asian grocery stores)
- 3 oz ground chicken
- 1/4 lb beef bones
- 4 stalks celery
- 1 stalk scallion
- 12 wonton skins
- 10 oz garlic
- 1 inch ginger
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 tablespoon tapioca starch
- 1 pack rice vermicelli (bihun)
- 4 tablespoons fried onions
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 12 cups water
- White pepper, salt, sugar to taste
- Sambal oelek to taste
- Cooking oil
In a large pot, bring water to boil over high heat. Finely mince 9 out of the 10 oz of garlic. Once the water is boiled, lower the heat to medium-low and put in the garlic, nutmeg, and beef bones. Let boil for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, let's make the pangsit (Indonesian fried wontons). Finely slice scallion. Mince the remaining ounce of garlic. Grate ginger. In a large mixing bowl, evenly mix the scallion, garlic, and ginger with ground chicken, sesame oil, tapioca starch, white pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon of salt.
Layout the wonton skins on a clean, flat surface. Divide the chicken mixture evenly among them, placing it in the center of each skins. Fold as shown below, use water to seal the edges of the folds:
Heat up cooking oil in a pot. Fry the wontons until they are golden brown. Lift them from the pot and let them rest on a piece of paper towel (the paper towel will absorb the remaining oil).
Prepare the rice vermicelli (bihun) according to the package's instructions. Slice celery thinly on the diagonal.
Strain the broth using a fine mesh sieve. Return it to the pot over medium-low heat.
Slice each of the beef balls right in the middle to get two equal halves. Dip the half-balls into the broth for a few minutes to heat them up. Lift them up and put onto a plate.
In a deep bowl, put the following items in the order listed below:
- Rice vermicelli (bihun)
- Celery slices - sparingly to taste
- Beef half-balls
- Broth - 1 cup to taste
- Fried onions - sprinkle
- 3-4 pangsits - as garnish
- A dash of sambal oelek - to taste
DO YOU KNOW ...
That President Obama cited bakso (and nasi goreng) as one of his favorite childhood dishes? He spent a few years during his childhood in Indonesia and during his 2010 visit to Indonesia, he was quoted to say "Bakso, nasi goreng, semuanya enak!" - translation: "Meatball soup, fried rice, everything is delicious!" That the President likes bakso so much is no surprise, bakso is a national street food in Indonesia. Often sold in pushcarts or hole-in-the-wall eateries, the dish is popular to students coming home from school, midnight owls coming home from clubs, and just about anyone. There are a lot of variations with different size beef balls and noodle types (wheat, mung bean, etc.). Some argue that it is the quintessential melting pot dish with the beef balls coming from the Dutch (who colonized Indonesia for 3.5 centuries), noodles from China, and condiments from Indonesia Many Asian countries have meatball soups, but experts agree that Indonesia's version of it is one of the very best.
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