Foreign dispatch: Jakarta, part deux

Arem arem

It’s high time for an Indonesian recipe.

I’ve been here six weeks, eating a wide variety of foods from all over the islands, and I would be remiss to not share about it, even if I’m not versed in making it myself.

This is how much I know about making Indonesian food:


However, for your reading pleasure, I’ve translated and cobbled together a recipe for you.

♫ Suggested listening: something from J-town. ♫

Click to listen: Ras Muhamad – “Musik Reggae Ini”


This recipe is for a tasty little snack called arem-arem, which has been likened to Indonesian tamales: rice with some kind of meat filling, steamed in banana leaves, and served with a tiny chili pepper.

Have I made this myself?  Nope.  I’ve only eaten it.

There’s no particular consensus as to what arem-arem should contain, so here are the basics.  I’ve adjusted the units and the salt content.

Arem-arem 2


For the rice:

  • 2 cups sticky rice
  • 4 cups coconut milk (maybe thin this with a bit of water… this sounds to me like it could burn.)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Plenty of banana leaves (that’s a tough one, I know).

For the filling:

  • 10 oz. ground beef or chicken
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1  bay leaf
  • 1 small chopped tomato
  • 1 small chopped red onion
  • 1 tsp galangal powder
  • Red chili
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons neutral cooking oil, such as canola

For the rice: combine all ingredients (except of course the banana leaves), and cook until the coconut milk is absorbed. Discard the bay leaves. Set aside and cool.

For the filling: heat the oil and saute the spices along and bay leaf until fragrant.  Add meat and stir until mostly cooked.  Add coconut milk and cook until most of the water has evaporated.  Set aside.

Time to wrap!  Grab 2 banana leaves, and flatten 3 – 4 tablespoons of the rice mixture onto the surface.  Then add 2 – 3 teaspoons of filling in the middle, and roll it up.  Secure it with a skewer, and then steam for 30 – 45 minutes.

Sound easy?

Of course it does.

Good luck with that.  Let me know how it turns out.

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