Bakwan Sayur: Deep Fried Vegetable Fritters

Bakwan sayur are deep-fried vegetable fritters common throughout Indonesia, and often sold as a streetside snack. It’s a quick and easy treat that’s addictive but gloriously unhealthy.

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Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk hails from Solo, the historic royal capital and cultural centre of Java, Indonesia. She has been cooking since the age of 12, and also performs and teaches traditional Javanese dance. Her dream is to eventually write her own Indonesian cookbook.

Bakwan (fritters) are a popular Indonesian snack, usually sold by street vendors. As one of the most common street foods found in Indonesia, bakwan goes by many different names depending on the region. In some areas of East Java (eg: Surabaya, Blitar, Mojokerto,etc), it’s called ote-ote, and it’s enjoyed in the morning with a cup of coffee or tea for breakfast. In West Java, bakwan is called bala-bala, which means “messy” or “disorganized” in the Sundanese language because of how it looks. In Semarang or Pekalongan (Central Java area), the dish is called badak, or “rhinoceros”, for some inexplicable reason. In Manado (North Sulawesi), bakwan is called Makao, and is usually eaten as an accompaniment with rice. There are still many other names, but I will not go further.

Cooking bakwan is very simple. All we need to do is to prepare the batter, which consists of all-purpose flour, egg, a little bit of water, and some seasoning.

To this we add other ingredients of our choice. In this recipe, we’ve added vegetables to make bakwan sayur, or “vegetable fritters”. Bakwan sayur, one of the most common bakwan varieties, contains shredded or finely-chopped vegetables such as white cabbage, carrot, scallion, or bean sprout. Any other vegetable can be added.

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Other varieties of bakwan might incorporate meats or seafood, such as shredded fish, minced meat, or prawns. Sometimes meats and vegetables are both included, such as in bakwan jagung udang, which has both prawns and corn. To identify the type of bakwan being made or sold, the main ingredients are simply affixed to the name bakwan, e.g., bakwan sayur for vegetable bakwan, bakwan ikan for fish bakwan, etc.

To whip up an authentic bakwan, deep frying can’t be avoided. Indonesians love gorengan or fried snacks, so they don’t really mind, but personally, I’m trying to limit my deep fried food intake. The only way to make the dish slightly healthier is to use healthier types of cooking oil, such as canola or sunflower oil. Even so, this is one delicious snack I can’t afford to have too often. 

Though considered a snack, bakwan is also often enjoyed with steamed rice. Any time of the day is always perfect for bakwan. Relish it with fresh bird’s eye chillies, chilli sauce, or peanut sauce to complement the flavour. This savoury vegetable fritter is delightfully crisp on the outside and slightly chewy inside. Elevate your coffee/tea time experience, by serving this delicious fritter along.

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Bakwan Sayur: Deep Fried Vegetable Fritters

Bakwan Sayur: Deep Fried Vegetable Fritters

  • Author: Nunuk Sri Rahayu
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Snacks
  • Method: Frying
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Halal

Description

Bakwan sayur are deep-fried vegetable fritters common throughout Indonesia, and often sold as a streetside snack. It’s a quick and easy treat that’s addictive but gloriously unhealthy. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 200 gr all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp tapioca flour (or rice flour)
  • 100 gr white cabbage, thinly shredded
  • 1 small carrot, peeled, julienned
  • 1 spring onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small celery stalk, thinly sliced
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 0.5 tsp white pepper powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp mushroom stock powder (optional)
  • 150 ml water
  • Cooking oil for deep frying

Instructions

  1. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic into a fine paste. Set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, tapioca flour, salt, white pepper powder, mushroom stock, egg, garlic paste and water into a smooth batter. 

    Make the batter

  3. Add the shredded cabbage, carrot, spring onion and celery stalk. Mix evenly.

    Add the vegetables

  4. In a wok, heat enough oil for deep frying over medium high heat.
  5. Scoop one tablespoon of the batter, and fry it until golden brown (around 3 minutes each side).

    Fry until golden brown

  6. Serve bakwan with fresh chilli or chilli sauce. 

    Serve bakwan with fresh chilli or chilli sauce


Notes

  • A little tapioca flour will help the dish become crispy on the outside. If unavailable, tapioca flour can be substituted with the same amount of rice flour.
  • The batter can also be prepared a few hours in advance. But the vegetables you’re using have high water content — add them just before frying.

Keywords: Common ingredients, Quick and easy, non-spicy

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