Our Yogyakata long weekend was a smorgasbord of spectacular local cuisine. Not great for the diet with all the sweet dishes and abundance of sugar, but spectacular for the taste buds and the other senses with sights and smells of some great food.
I started lunch on the first day with Pecel Goreng Semarang. This dish was greens, rolled in cabbage with breadcrumbs and fried – goreng is Bahasa for fried.
Gudeg is a must have in Yogyakarta as it is a traditional food from Yogyakarta and Central Java, Indonesia. Gudeg is made from young unripe jack fruit boiled for several hours with palm sugar, and coconut milk. Additional spices include garlic, shallot, candlenut, coriander seed, galangal, bay leaves, and teak leaves, the latter giving a reddish brown colour to the dish. I am told that it changes from region to region with respect to spices and cooking technique.
I had Gudeg Ayam Goreng (Chicken Fried) with Krecek (cow skin). In the picture the Gudeg is the brown paste in the top right – it was very sweet as expected. The Krecek is the brown pieces in the top left – this was a rubbery texture and tasted OK but I could not get Kerrie or Emily to try.
Our guide took us to a Gudeg Yu Djum which him and other locals all declared as the best. The street is packed with Gudeg restaurants all trying to capitalise on the popularity of Gudeg Yu Djum.
While I was trying Gudeg, Kerrie and Emily went even more local and had Gado Gado at the street stall opposite. Our guide stated that while all the tourists are in trying Gudeg, the drivers and other guides are all across the road at this stall having different local salads, like Gado Gado. The Gudeg was nice but I think Kerrie and Emily got the better lunch!!!
We ate at a number of road side stalls with no upset stomach issues. Perhaps three years in Malaysia has desensitised us. The Gado Gado for lunch on our last day was a good example as we went to a local market and this wonderful old couple made us Gado Gado and Iced Lime Juice (limau ais). They were fantastic and I think shocked but happy to see us eating at their stall.
Of course the other key food item in Java is Luwak Coffee, also known as “Civet Coffee.” It is collected from coffee berry beans which have been digested by the Asian Palm civet. The Asian civet eats the ripest berries for their fleshy pulp which allows the proteolytic enzymes in its stomach to percolate into the beans. This process breaks down the proteins in the green beans creating a unique exotic flavour. Once the Civet expels the coffee beans through its faeces , they are collected and processed into coffee.
We saw places that unfortunately had the animals in cages for show plus exploring the internet you see a recurring theme and concern that Luwak Coffee has become so popular that many farms have emerged that keep the civet in cages and feed them only on coffee beans rather than gathering from the produce from the wild.
Another great food place we visited in Yogyakarta was a Tofu making business in a small village near Borobudur. The process was very simple in cooking the beans, grinding them and then boiling them with a coagulant. The tofu curds are then moulded and cut.
What was most surprising was that this small Indonesian business used soya beans imported from USA as they are much bigger than local soya beans and a better yield. However it makes you wonder what the good old USA has done to these soya beans genetically.