What Is Cilok?
Cilok – pronounced as chee-lock – actually stands for a Sundanese phrase of Aci Dicolok which means skewered tapioca. It is a savoury street snack originally from Bandung, West Java.
I remember getting this snack after school when I used to live in Bandung many years ago. In case you wonder, these are chewy dumpling balls made of tapioca flour. And you have them with a generous drizzle of spicy peanut sauce.
Here, I’m sharing a recipe that my sister gave me. With her permission, I tweaked it and changed some ingredient proportion and used a slightly different cooking method.
This recipe offers a better taste and texture than the original Cilok that I remember.
Maybe because it uses real chicken or fish to enhance the flavour. Because the original recipe uses stock powder. And also the texture of the tapioca is not too rubbery chewy. Plus, of course, you can always add the spices and herbs that you like to make them taste even better.
Forgotten Street Food From The Olden Days
I actually forgot about this humble street food until my sister reminded me.
So, the last few years have seen changes in the faith of those tapioca dumplings. Because apparently, Cilok is now quite popular. At least, it has won the hearts of people in Jakarta. And people try to modify the recipes into all styles.
Some add cheese in the balls, some add meat pieces, and of course, some also change the spices and flavour of the dumpling dough.
But here, I’m sharing with you a recipe that is close to the original. It’s an improved version in terms of taste and texture. But everything else is pretty much the same as the traditional Cilok from Bandung.
Simple Snacks With Simple Ingredients
The original cilok uses very simple ingredients. They are plain flour, tapioca flour, stock powder, garlic, salt and pepper. And to enhance the quality of this savoury snack, I substitute the stock powder with a real boneless fillet of fish or chicken. I also add spring onions to give extra flavour.
When it comes to the sauce, I simplified it by using peanut butter and shop-bought chilli sauce. But you can always use real peanuts and real chillies (I include both sauce recipes).
What you’re after is spicy and savoury peanut sauce with a slightly sweet taste.
Easy And Quick Way To Make Cilok
Essentially, you want to make the dough base by cooking the plain flour in hot boiling water seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper. You mix them all until you get a glue-like flour paste. Place it in a mixing bowl.
Then you process the tapioca flour and the fish/ chicken fillet in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you can try to finely mince the fish/ chicken using a knife. And mix it with tapioca flour. You want the flour to feel like breadcrumbs if not finer.
Next, you add the sliced spring onions into the plain flour mixture and put the tapioca flour and fish/ chicken mixture little by little as you stir.
Keep mixing until all the ingredients are combined and you get a smooth dough. Then shape the dough into small balls of the golf ball size (or smaller).
Boil some water in a large pan, add a tablespoon of oil to it.
Once the water is boiling, carefully place the dough balls in it and cook them until all floating on the water surface. When the dough balls come up on the surface, let them cook further for at least 3-4 minutes. To ensure that your dumplings are fully cooked.
Pick the cilok using a slotted spoon, drain and place them on a plate.
For the sauce, you just mix all the ingredients into a smooth thick sauce. If you use roasted/ fried peanuts, you can process all the ingredients in a blender and boil until the sauce is bubbling.
Thank you for reading the post. I hope you’re now thinking of trying this Cilok recipe. When you do, it will be great if you can share what you think about the recipe in the comments below.
Before you go, don’t forget to check out my other Indonesian street food snack recipes that you may like:
- Pangsit Ayam: Indonesian chicken wontons.
- Asinan Jakarta: Indonesian crispy salad with spicy peanuts and tamarind.
- Perkedel Tempe: Indonesian tempeh fritters.
- Rujak Serut: Indonesian sweet potato slaw with tamarind dressing.
- Ketoprak Jakarta: beansprout and vermicelli salad with peanut sauce.
Thank you and all the best.
Cilok Recipe: Chewy Tapioca Dumplings Balls
- Wooden spoon
- Cooking pan
For the Cilok:
- 1 cup boneless fillet of fish or chicken. see the note.
- 1 cup plain flour/ all-purpose flour.
- 1 cup tapioca flour.
- 3 garlic cloves. minced. Or, 1 heaped teaspoon of garlic powder.
- 3 spring onions/ scallions. finely sliced.
- 2 teaspoons salt.
- ½ teaspoon ground black or white pepper see the note.
- 1 cup hot water. I use boiling water from the kettle.
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil. see the note.
For the sauce with peanut butter:
- ¼ cup peanut butter.
- 2 tablespoons chilli sauce. I use sriracha sauce. See the note.
- 1 teaspoon honey or brown sugar.
- Salt to taste.
- ¼ cup boiled water. or more if it’s too thick.
- Sweet soy sauce. optional.
For the sauce with roasted peanuts or deep-fried peanuts:
- 50 grams roasted peanuts. or fried peanuts.
- 2 red bird’s eye chillies. or 1 teaspoon red chilli powder (see the note).
- 1 clove garlic.
- Salt to taste.
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar or honey.
- ½ cup water.
- Sweet soy sauce optional.
To make Cilok:
- Cut the fish or chicken in chunks.
- Place the fish/ chicken in a food processor together with tapioca flour. Process them until it’s smooth. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, cook the hot water with garlic, salt and ground pepper until it reaches boiling point.
- Add the plain flour into the water mix and stir well until all combined. You can turn the heat off. The flour mixture will be very sticky like glue. Don’t get disheartened. Just keep mixing until it all looks smooth with no lumps.
- Place the sticky plain flour mixture into a mixing bowl and add in the spring onions.
- Pour the tapioca and fish/ chicken mixture in little by little as you mix them. Keep mixing until all the ingredients are combined and you get a rather smooth dough.
- Take a tablespoon of mixture and shape it into a round ball (about 1.5 inches/ 3.8 cm in dia). If the dough is sticky, use two spoons to work and shape the dough. Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly round. Work until all the dough is shaped into small balls.
- At the same time, boil some water (approx. 1.5-2 litre) in a large pan and add 1 tbsp of oil.
- Once the water is ready and boiled, carefully drop the dough balls in it. Do not overcrowd the water with too many dough balls at a time. Because the dough balls will slightly rise and plump up as they are cooking. So make sure you give enough space in between those dumplings. Let them cook until they come upon the surface. Then leave them to further cook for at least 3-5 minutes to ensure they’re thoroughly cooked before you pick them up with a slotted spoon.
To make the sauce with peanut butter:
- Place the peanuts, chilli sauce, salt and honey/ sugar in a bowl. Using a fork or a small whisk, add in the water little by little as you stir/ whisk the ingredients.
- Keep mixing until all is smooth. You can add more water if the mixture gets too thick. I prefer the heavy cream consistency. Check the taste. You may want to add the chilli sauce or salt according to your taste. I like my sauce to be savoury and spicy.
To make the sauce with roasted/ fried peanuts:
- Place the peanuts, chillies, garlic, salt and sugar/ honey in a blender. Add the water in and process the blender until you get a nice thick sauce. You can add more water if you find the mixture is too thick. I prefer double cream consistency.
- Put the mixture in a saucepan. Cook it until it’s boiling and simmering for 3 minutes. Check the taste and make sure it’s spicy, savoury with a little hint of sweetness.
- Put the Cilok on a small dish or a bowl. Pour the peanut sauce over and drizzle some sweet soy sauce (if you use it) according to your taste. You can use a toothpick to eat these Cilok. Like the olden days.
- You can use any boneless white flesh fish such as basa, haddock, cod, hake, halibut, etc. If you prefer, you can also use skinless and boneless chicken.
- Ideally, we use ground white pepper, but really, ground black pepper is good enough to make these chewy tapioca dumpling balls.
- You can use any type of cooking oil to put in the boiling water. The idea is to prevent the tapioca balls from sticking one to another due to the sticky starch of tapioca flour. Vegetable oil, sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, etc. are some of the good choices.
- Use any chilli you have. Either fresh chillies or dried chilli powder is good. Put more or less chilli according to your taste.
- You can use any chilli sauce you like. I often use Indonesian chilli sauce or sriracha sauce.
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.