Today, let’s take a trip to Makassar, the capital city of South Sulawesi province. This largest city in eastern Indonesia occupies a strategic position in the Indonesian archipelago and connects Sumatra, Java, Bali and Kalimantan in the west, with Sulawesi, Maluku and Papua in the East. Throughout its history, Makassar has been an important trading port, and a centre for the spice trade during the pre-colonial and colonial period.
Once known as Ujung Pandang, the city is surrounded by scenic panoramic views, beautiful white sandy beaches and culinary treasures, unique from other parts of Indonesia.
One of the treasures which has travelled far from Makassar and is well-received by people throughout Indonesia is Sop Konro. It’s a dish that makes one dream of Makassar, and reminds overseas Makassarese of home.
Sop Konro is a soup dish made of beef ribs simmered in a handful of different spices. It has a dark color (dark brown/black) because of the keluak (a fermented seed from Pangium Edule), which lends the dish a fermented nutty flavour. The soup is further accentuated with roasted grated coconut, which gives it an interesting twist by adding a very light creamy flavour with tiny coconut bits for additional texture.
Enjoying a bowl of Sop Konro takes me on an adventurous imaginary journey. All those spices in the dish are truly reflective of Makassar as the centre of the Spice Islands, especially the combination of coconut and keluak. It’s also a hearty dish to eat because of the size of the ribs – these ribs are specifically cut for sop konro, with longer bones.
These bones are simmered for a long time over a low fire, with all kinds of spices and herbs, and makes the broth deliciously concentrated. In Makassar, Sop Konro is served with burasa (rice dumpling cooked with coconut milk and wrapped in a banana leaf) or ketupat (rice cake wrapped in young coconut leaf). But it’s great with plain white rice, too. A garnish of fried shallots, lime wedges and sambal sop can also be included to enhance the flavour.Print
Sop konro is a hearty beef ribs soup from Makassar, South Sulawesi, with a complex flavour. Key ingredients include kluwak and grated coconut, along with tamarind extract, turmeric, and other spices.
- 1 kg beef ribs, washed thoroughly
- 150 gr grated coconut
- 3 pieces whole (or around 30 gr ready to use) kluwak (keluak).
- 7 shallots, peeled, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped
- 3 cm turmeric, peeled, chopped
- 2 cm ginger, peeled, chopped
- 2 cm galangal, chopped
- 3 candlenuts, chopped
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 0.7 tsp caraway seeds
- 0.5 tsp ground nutmeg
- 0.5 tsp white pepper powder
- 1 lemongrass, use only the white part, bruised, knotted
- 2 Salam leaves
- 3 Kaffir lime leaves
- 4 cm cinnamon
- 4 cloves
- 2 cardamoms
- 1 tsp tamarind extract
- Salt to taste
- Sugar to taste (optional)
- 4 tbsp cooking oil
- Sliced spring onion and fried shallots for garnishing (optional)
- Pan roast the grated coconut until golden brown, over medium heat. Stir continuously to avoid burning.
- Let it cool and grind it into a coarse powder using a food processor. Set aside.
- If using the whole kluwak, crack it open, and soak it in hot water, just enough to cover the surface. (Ready to use kluwak needs to be soaked too, but not cracked open). Let it cool and blend it with a little bit of the soaking water into a fine paste.
- Blend into a smooth paste: shallots, garlic, turmeric, ginger, galangal, candlenuts, coriander seeds and caraway seeds. Set aside.
- Put water in a cooking pot over high heat and bring it to boil.
- Add the ribs, and boil it for around 3 minutes until the scum rises, then turn off the heat and throw away the water, rinse the ribs and add around 2 lt cold water.
- Bring the ribs to boil over high heat, then reduce the flame to medium low.
- Meanwhile, in a frying pan, heat the cooking oil over medium heat, then sauté the blended spices and kluwak until fragrant, around 4 minutes.
- Add the sautéed spices to the soup.
- Add the lemongrass, salam and kaffir lime leaves, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.
- Add the tamarind extract, salt and sugar.
- Continue cooking the soup for around 1 hr.
- Add the grounded roasted grated coconut, stir, and cook for another 30 minutes.
- When the soup is done and the meat is tender, turn off the heat.
- Transfer the soup in a serving bowl, garnish with sliced spring onions and fried shallots.
- Serve the soup with sambal and lime wedges on the side.
- If possible, use beef ribs for the best result. Choose ribs with big bones as the bones will produce delicious broth important for the dish.
- Although large, long ribs are used in Makassar, smaller cuts can also be used.
Keywords: non-spicy, tamarind, red meat, turmeric