The long period of Dutch colonialism was obviously affecting some aspects related to Indonesian culinary history. One of the Dutch-influenced foods is Semur, that is meat or chicken stew that has sweet, sour, savory taste.
Hachee is Dutch stew that presumed to be the basis of Semur. Even though they both have different unique taste, the form and cooking method of Semur is pretty much the same with Hachee, which is slow cooking. Another thing in common is the sour taste of Hachee that is coming from wine, which in Semur is substituted with tomato. The term “Semur” itself is also believed to be an adaptation from Dutch word that is close in pronunciation, smoren, which means slow cooking on low heat for tendering meat.
However, it’s not only the Dutch that had influence on Semur so it became what it is now. The spices that are used in Semur were coming from Middle East during the trade era back then, and the use of soy sauce was the effect from Chinese traders. During its development, every region in Indonesia had their own influence on Semur ingredients that no wonder now Indonesia has 12 or more variations of Semur listed. Those facts are making Semur worth noted as not only traditional cuisine, but also national and historical dish. Some Indonesian food enthusiast and community together with Indonesian Ministry of Culture and Tourism were planning to submit Semur to UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage on 2011; unfortunately there is no updated news about that currently.
As the main content of Semur is vary; from meat or chicken, to boiled egg, tofu, tempeh, or beef tongue, for this one I cooked I opted to use beef tongue, tofu, and potato. This recipe is also working for diced meat, diced chicken or chicken pieces.
Semur Lidah Sapi (Indonesian Beef Tongue Stew with Sweet Soy Sauce)
Adapted from: link
Yield: 5 servings
- 500 grams beef tongue, clean, boil to tender, and peel (see the steps to peel it here)
- 1 large potato, diced (optional)
- Extra firm or firm tofu, diced (optional)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cm ginger, crushed
- 1 – 2 cup water
- 2 tbsp margarine
- 6 cloves
- 4 cm cinnamon stick
- 5 star anise
- 6 to 10 tbsp sweet soy sauce
- 3 tomato, diced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp nutmeg powder
- 2 onions, sliced
- 7 shallot, grinded
- 4 garlic, grinded
- 3 candlenut, crushed
- 2 cm ginger, crushed
Side dish (optional):
- Green bean and carrot, cut into match-like sticks, boiled
Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 2 hour
- To get rid of musky odor, boil peeled beef tongue along with bay leaves and ginger until the water volume shrinks. Remove from heat
- Combine all marinades in to the pot, soak for 1 hour
- Meanwhile, deep fry potato and tofu, and prepare the spices
- On large pan, saute all spices ingredients with margarine until the onion turn golden
- Pour in marinated beef tongue along with the marinades and 1 cup of water, turn to boil, stir occasionally
- Add in fried tofu and potato, stir, simmer until the water level shrinks
- If you work with beef, check the tenderness by poking meat with fork. If it’s still tough, and another cup of water then re-do the simmering until the water volume turns half.
- Serve with rice and boiled vegetable.