Rainy season has started here in Bogor… For those who don’t know, Bogor is known as Rain City, where annual rainfall is high. Bogor is surrounded by mountains, making it ideal condition for orographic precipitation. Rainy season in Bogor means pouring rain every afternoon and sometimes in the morning too.
Plus, I am currently pregnant. It’s already five months now… My first child, how exiting!
Rain and pregnancy make me hungry most of the time. Hehe… Imagine this, rainy afternoon, lunch was long gone, dinner still sometime away… What better thing than some snack?
Indonesian people love fried food. In fact, we have what we call “gorengan” which literally mean fried stuff. There are various fried stuff you can choose, stuffed tofu, crispy tempeh, fried cassava, fried plantain, and also bakwan (vegetable fritters). All is very cheap. You can get a paper bag full of gorengan only for a dollar.
Gorengan is sold as street food. And it was featured in CNN travel article: Indonesian food. It is worth mentioned because gorengan is classic Indonesian street food. Countless time I bought and enjoy gorengan.
Now, because I am pregnant, I have to watch my food intake. Less junk food, more healthy stuff. I think it would be better if I make my own gorengan with cooking oil that still golden (not black, tar-like stuff they use in the street cart). So I made bakwan!
I am not saying that bakwan is healthiest food. It is however, still fried. But at least it has veggies in it. So it’s something. Right, right?
Bakwan is a vegetable fritters, made from beansprout, shredded carrot and cabage, corn, scallions, and seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper, mixed with flour and water. It is simple enough. There are other variety of bakwan such as shrimp bakwan that use shrimp too and corn bakwan that only use corn. I like them all.
Unique fact about bakwan is the name originated from Chinese, bak= pork, and wan= round. Which is weird because bakwan doesn’t contain pork. It is assumed that somewhere along the way, there was an increase in Moslem population in Indonesia that don’t eat pork and adjust the food, shifting the ingredients, and resulted in whole new dishes, but with the same name.
Anyway, bakwan is a regular snack in my home, current home and also home where I grew up. I remember my mother in the kitchen frying bakwan, me, my brother, sister, and father watching TV together. My mother would came bringing a pile of bakwan, still very hot. We dived right in. When the plate nearly empty, my mother would came back with second batch of bakwan. Fun time..
So, to make bakwan, prepare the ingredients first. I used shredded carrot, shredded cabbage, corn, scallion, as the vegetable. Now, don’t limit yourself. You can absolutely add ingredient or remove them. But please don’t use vegetable with high water content such as cucumber, it’ll ruin the texture.
Mix all the vegetables in a mixing bowl, add minced garlic, salt, pepper, and bouillon block (optional). Now, I like to add the flour before I add the wet ingredients. Mix in the flour until everything is coated. Now add the egg and some water. Mix and mix, and now we are ready to fry it.
The batter should be thick enough to spoon. If it’s too runny, just add more flour.
If you don’t eat egg, it is possible to skip the egg in this recipe. I tried cooking bakwan without egg, and it’s totally fine. The difference only in the texture. With egg, bakwan become more tender in the inside and it still tender even it’s not warm anymore. So if you skip the egg, I would suggest to finish all the bakwan while it still warm. Otherwise it’ll become tough and hard to chew.
I use spoon for scooping the batter into the pan. One generous dollop at a time, give a bit of space so they don’t stick at each other until the pan is full. It won’t take long until the edges starter to turn golden brown. Flip the bakwan, fry the other side. Remove from heat, strain the oil, and that’s all.
Bakwan is best served warm. But it still totally edible and yummy even in room temperature. Usually Indonesian eat bakwan with green chili or chili sauce.