Popular Indonesian Street Food
Bakso stands out in Indonesia’s bustling street food scene. This popular snack dish features tender beef meatballs served in a savory broth, often accompanied by noodles and vegetables.
It’s a filling and satisfying snack that people enjoy at any time of the day.
Originating as a humble street food, Bakso is now more than a quick bite; it is a taste of Indonesian culture. You can see it from many vendors selling these meatballs in soup bowls on busy streets and in restaurants.
It has become widespread all over Indonesia, and you will find a local version of Bakso.
With this recipe, you’ll understand why this easy-to-make dish is well-liked. Next time you go on holiday to Indonesia, you’ll know what street food to try.
Reasons to Make Bakso at Home
- Adjustable: You can change Bakso to suit your palate, from fiery spice levels to various meatball types, including beef, chicken, and vegetarian options.
- Comfort Food: Its warm broth and hearty meatballs make it the perfect comfort food, especially during colder months or when you need a satisfying snack.
- Nutritious: Packed with protein from meatballs and savory beef stock, Bakso is a healthy snack that satiates without guilt.
- Uncomplicated: Despite its exotic appeal, Bakso is surprisingly simple to make at home, with readily available ingredients in most supermarkets.
- Family-Friendly: Both adults and children love its tasty, savory flavors that everyone can change according to their taste. It can quickly become a family favorite for any snack time.
Ingredients You Need
- Ground Beef: You can use lean meat such as topside, though the most commonly used in Indonesia is brisket, as it is one of the cheap meats but is flavorsome.
- Ice Cubes: Ice temperature helps the meat to process quickly with other ingredients.
- Egg White: It acts as a glue in the meat mixture.
- Tapioca Starch: This is a flour made of cassava. Most Asian shops sell this flour, or you can get it online.
- White Pepper: This type of pepper gives a distinctive flavor and spiciness compared to black pepper.
- Garlic Powder: Feel free to add more garlic. It makes meatballs tastier, and garlic is one of the beneficial spices we should put in our diet.
- Onion Powder: This gives the meat and other ingredients a more savory flavor.
- Baking Powder: This raising agent helps the mixture to become tender and not as hard.
- Sugar: A little of this sweetener can enhance the overall flavor of the meat.
- Salt: Nothing tastes good without this, especially for savory food.
- Beef Ribs: A small amount of these to make the soup richer and tastier.
- Scallion/ Green Onion: It gives a finished flavor to the soup.
How to Make Bakso
Firstly, crush the ice cubes by putting them in a plastic food bag and smashing them into tiny pieces using a rolling pin. Then, gradually process the meat in the food processor while adding the crushed ice. Process until the beef becomes a smooth, thick paste.
Add the egg white and process again. Then add tapioca starch, garlic powder, onion powder, white pepper, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Process again until everything turns into a smooth meat mixture.
Boil 2 liters of water in a large cooking pot. When it reaches boiling point, take a tablespoon of the mixture, shape it into a round ball, and slide it into the boiling water. Tip: wet your hands and the spoon before you do it so the mixture doesn’t get too sticky to your hands.
Finish making the round balls and let them cook in the water. When the meatballs come to the water surface, float them for another 3-4 minutes before taking them out of the pot.
When cooking the meatballs finish, reserve the water for the soup.
Prepare the beef ribs for the stock by boiling them in a smaller pot with 2-3 cups of fresh water. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes, drain and discard the water, and set the ribs aside.
Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan, and stir-fry the minced garlic until it releases aroma and turns light golden.
Add the garlic to the reserved water from cooking the meatballs, followed by boiled ribs, ground white pepper, and salt. Bring the water back to boil at medium-high heat, then turn it down and let it simmer for at least 30 minutes. Check the taste and add sliced scallion.
Serve Bakso and soup, garnish with fried shallots, celery, or parsley. Enjoy it with drizzles of sweet soy sauce, chili sauce, and squeezes of lime juice if you like. You can also have it with egg noodles and rice vermicelli noodles if you want it as a meal with carbs.
Substitution and Variations
- Meat Variations: Try chicken or fish for different flavors and textures.
- Extra Jumbo Meatballs: Boil some eggs and peel the shell off. Cover the egg with the Bakso meat mixture.
- Cheesy Meatballs: Fill the meatballs with feta, mozzarella, or cheddar cheese cubes.
- Spice It Up: Add chili sauce or slices of fresh chili to the broth for an extra kick.
What to Enjoy Bakso With
You can enjoy Bakso with chili sauce, a drizzle of sweet soy sauce, and a squeeze of lime or white vinegar for an extra zing. It pairs well with crispy crackers or a simple Acar Timun (pickle cucumber) to balance the meal.
For a more substantial feast, serve the meatballs with egg noodles or rice noodles.
Indonesia’s Favorite Street Food
Bakso offers a unique taste of Indonesian street food culture, combining tender meatballs in a flavorful broth; this dish is simple to prepare and packed with nutritious ingredients. It is a perfect snack for anyone exploring international cuisine or enjoying a comforting, satisfying meal at home.
- Food-grade plastic bag
- Rolling Pin
- Chopping board
- Mixing bowl
- Food processor
- Cooking pot
- Slotted spoon
For the meatballs:
- 1.1 pounds ground beef
- 3.5 ounces ice cubes
- 1 egg white
- 3.5 ounces tapioca starch
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1½ – 2 teaspoons salt or according to taste
- 8 cups water
For the soup:
- ½ pound/ 225 grams beef rib cut into small pieces
- 12 cloves garlic minced into a paste
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 green onion/ scallions finely sliced
- ¾ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt or to taste.
- Fried shallots
- Chili sauce
- Sweet soy sauce
- White vinegar
- Noodles rice vermicelli or egg noodles
- Pak choy or other greens
- Put the ice cubes in a food plastic bag, using a rolling pin, and crush the ice cubes into small pieces.
- Place the meat in the food processor and process it as you add the crushed ice gradually until the beef becomes a smooth, thick paste.
- Add the egg white and process again.
- Add tapioca starch, garlic powder, onion powder, white pepper, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Process again until everything turns into a smooth mixture.
- Bring the water to boil in a large cooking pot.
- Once the water boils, take a tablespoon of the mixture, shape it into a round ball, and slide it into the boiling water. Tip: wet your hands and the spoon before you do it so the mixture doesn’t get too sticky to your hands.
- Finish making the round balls and let them cook in the water. When the meatballs come to the water surface, leave them float for another 3-4 minutes before taking them out of the pot.
- When all the meatballs are cooked, reserve the water for the soup.
- Place the beef ribs in a smaller cooking pot and put 2-3 cups of fresh water. Bring the water to a boil and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Then drain and discard the water, and set the ribs aside.
- Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan, add minced garlic, and stir-fry until it releases aroma and turns light golden.
- Add the garlic to the reserved water from cooking the meatballs, followed by boiled ribs, ground white pepper, and salt. Bring the water back to boil at medium-high heat, then turn it down and let it simmer for at least 30 minutes. Add sliced scallion.
- You can use lean beef meat if the ground beef is unavailable—just the meat in small pieces before processing it in the food processor.
Nutritional info in this recipe is only estimate using online calculator. You should refer to it as a guide only. Please verify with your own data if you seek an accurate info.