What is Ketoprak?
Ketoprak is a unique salad from the Jakarta area with the main ingredients of lontong/ ketupat, beansprouts, rice vermicelli, and tofu. It has garlicky and spicy peanut sauce as its dressing.
It is an underrated Indonesian street food that offers distinctive flavor and texture. To simply put, Ketoprak is a salad and a meal made in one dish.
One may try to compare it to its sister, Gado-gado, but it’s a different dish in all senses.
Just like any other street food, you can enjoy Ketoprak any time of the day. And it is one of the most popular food items offered by sellers in the Jakarta area.
Hence, the name is Ketoprak Jakarta. I doubt you can find this special vegan dish outside Jakarta.
What it is made of
Contrary to what some people think, you don’t need many ingredients to make Ketoprak. You only need tofu, rice vermicelli, bean sprouts, and lontong or ketupat. And as for the peanut sauce dressing, you only need peanuts, chilies, garlic, palm sugar (or brown sugar), lime juice, and sweet soy sauce.
Of all these ingredients, lontong or ketupat was something I couldn’t make easily.
Traditionally, you use banana leaves to make lontong and to make ketupat you need coconut/palm leaves that are woven into a diamond shape. And banana leaves are so expensive here in the UK. Whilst the palm leaves are just impossible to get as it doesn’t exist here.
But now you can make your own lontong in a food-grade plastic bag. You can check my post on how to make lontong without banana leaves.
Lontong is one of the key ingredients
The difference between lontong and ketupat lies in how you wrap it before you cook the rice.
Lontong uses banana leaves that are rolled into a cylinder and you put the rice in that cylinder tube. Whilst ketupat uses palm leaves that are woven into a sort of diamond-shaped pouch.
Both lontong and ketupat are cooked by boiling them in water for long hours. It normally takes 2-3 hours to boil them. It depends on how big your lontong/ ketupat is and how many lontong/ketupat you put in the pot.
Unlike western salad, many Indonesian salads and dishes use lontong or ketupat, the hard-boiling rice that some people in the west call it rice cake.
How to make Ketoprak
Apart from boiling the lontong and frying the tofu, you don’t really have to cook to make ketoprak.
When you have your lontong ready, you can dice your tofu and fry them. And set aside.
Then soak your rice vermicelli in hot boiling water for about 3 minutes. Drain it and set it aside. And do the same for bean sprouts. Soak them in hot boiling water for about 2-3 minutes, drain the water and set aside.
To make the peanut sauce, you can use roasted and salted peanuts – ready-made from the shop. And of course, if you want, you can use raw peanuts and fry them yourself. The taste of the sauce may differ slightly. Because the deep-fried peanuts have a distinguished smell of fried stuff. It’s a kind of rich aroma that makes your food more flavorsome. But I’m okay with the roasted peanut aroma. For me, they both equally make tasty peanut sauce.
Anyway, you put 200 grams of peanuts together with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, 3-4 bird’s eye chilies, 4 cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons of palm sugar (or brown sugar), and ½ teaspoon of salt, and 1 cup of water in a blender or a food processor. Blend and process it until it all becomes a smooth thick sauce. Add 1-2 tablespoons of lime juice. You may want to use less or more water until you get a smooth runny sauce that is as thick as double cream (heavy cream).
Assemble the dish
Try and taste the sauce. It should taste rich, spicy, garlicky, sweet, and salty all at the same time. And feel free to make some adjustments according to your taste. Especially when it comes to chilies.
The last thing you want to prepare is the crackers. But this one is optional. Traditionally, Jakartan people use onion crackers – crackers that are made of rice and have an onion flavor. But you can use rice crackers. You can even use the ready-made ones from the shop!
So now you have everything ready to assemble.
Cut the lontong into small squares/ pieces and arrange them on a plate. Put some rice vermicelli over the lontong. And add bean sprouts and tofu on top of it.
Pour the peanut sauce generously over the vegetables and lontong. Then drizzle some sweet soy sauce and garnish with the crackers. Enjoy.
Top tips to make irresistibly delicious Ketoprak
- There are many types of vermicelli. Make sure you choose the one that is made with rice. The thin dried noodles should look cloudy white, not clear white or any other color.
- Soak the vermicelli for at least three minutes but not more than five minutes. Because it may have a hard texture or go too soft. You can try and have a bite before you decide to drain it.
- Choose the extra-firm tofu. If you want to make your own tofu, you can check my tutorial post on how I make my tofu. You can even make Indonesian yellow tofu if you follow my tutorial.
- You also want to make sure you choose Indonesian sweet soy sauce as other sauces can taste different. I tried in the past, and I regretted it. Did you know that sweet soy sauce is originally from Indonesia? So I guess it’s only fair if we stick to the original :-).
- The original Ketoprak Jakarta doesn’t use peanut butter. But I use about 2 tablespoons to add creaminess to the sauce. You can skip it altogether.
More street foods from Indonesia
Thank you for reading this ketoprak recipe. I hope you enjoy it and will try the recipe. If you do try it, please leave in the comments below how you like it.
And don’t forget to check my other Street Food (Jajan Pasar) recipes that you may equally like.
- Sate Ayam – Indonesian chicken satay.
- Lamb Satay – the copycat of Indonesian Sate Kambing.
- Nasi Uduk Jakarta – rice cooked in fragrant coconut milk.
Take care and all the best.
- Food processor or
- Frying pan
- Slotted spoon
- Mixing bowl
- 1 ready-cooked Lontong see the note.
- 1 ½ cups beansprouts.
- 2 ounces vermicelli/ fine rice noodles
- 5 ounces extra-firm tofu.
- 1 ⅔ cups roasted & salted peanuts see the notes.
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter optional, see the note.
- 4 red chilies see the note.
- 4 cloves garlic.
- 2 ½ tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar. see the note.
- ½ teaspoon salt.
- 1-2 tablespoons Lime juice.
- 2 cups Water.
- ¼ cup. Indonesian Sweet soy sauce.
- Crackers optional.
- Using a pestle and mortar, a blender, or a food processor, grind, blend, or process the peanuts, chili, garlic, sugar, salt, and water until it’s smooth and thick. You want the paste to be as thick as double cream. Not too runny nor too thick. So you may want to use more or less water than the recipe.
- Add the lime juice in and mix well or give it another blitz. Set aside.
- Put the rice vermicelli in a mixing bowl, pour boiling water from the kettle over it and let the rice vermicelli soaked in the water for about 3 minutes. Then drain the vermicelli, set aside.
- Wash, rinse and blanched the bean sprouts with hot boiling water for a few minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Cut the tofu into dice and shallow-fry them for about 6-10 minutes until the outer skin looks a bit golden. Set aside.
- Cut the Lontong into small squares.
- Take a serving plate.
- Arrange the Lontong on a plate. Then add the vermicelli on the top, and scatter the bean sprouts and tofu over it.
- Lastly, pour the peanut sauce generously and drizzle with some sweet soy sauce.
- If using, garnish with prawn crackers.
- Although Lontong is one of the main ingredients of Ketoprak, some people may not like it. So if you think you won’t like it, you’re more than welcome to skip it. Though it may not be the same as the real Ketoprak Jakarta.
- For the sauce, you can use roasted salted peanuts. Or you can deep fry raw peanuts yourself. If you decide to fry the peanuts, make sure you keep stirring as you fry. Otherwise, the nuts won’t be evenly cooked. And when you use the fried peanuts, you may want to add more salt to the sauce.
- If you don’t have fresh chilies, you can substitute them with chili powder. I would put 1 teaspoon of chili powder. Or put as much as you like. Because some chili powder can be hotter than others. So be mindful of that. Try to add a little first then add more if you need.
- Ideally, you use palm sugar or brown sugar. But if you don’t have it, you don’t have to worry. Just use the normal sugar but make sure you have a proper Indonesian sweet soy sauce.
- Peanut butter is a new addition that can add the creaminess to the sauce. You can skip it altogether and still make a delicious sauce. So don’t worry if you don’t have it. But it’s definitely recommended.
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.