Kecap Manis, what is it you ask? It’s a thick soy sauce sweetened with palm sugar from Indonesia. This ingredient came to my attention via an older version of Saveur magazine and I knew instantly that I had to try it. Problem was once I got it home I didn’t really know what to do with it.
My initial reaction: it smelled like a cross between soy and molasses. Not surprisingly I learned you can make your own “kecap” version at home by using, you guessed it, molasses (my nose rarely lets me down, except during cold season!) plus a few other ingredients.
My significant other’s reaction: smells hoppy and a bit like malt. Frankly, I think he was craving a beer although there does seem to be a slightly malty essence contained within.
Because I felt like this was one of those things like fish sauce which adds a subtle nuance when blended with other ingredients, I kept trying to crack the kecap code. I finally asked a friend what to do with the stuff and she said it makes a killer marinade. So I created a test batch, attacked a flank steak with a fork and then marinated it for 24 hours. Guests unanimously rated the kecap flank “super tasty” and I hope you will too!
Kecap Manis Marinade
- ½ cup soy (dark is preferable)
- ¼ cup kecap manis
- 3 Tbs. vinegar (unseasoned rice or cider)
- 2 tsp. garlic, minced
- 1 Tbs. ginger (fresh or jarred)
- 1 – 2 Tbs. sesame oil (add to your taste – sesame oil can be quite strong)
- ½ c. sherry or white wine
- Lime juice
- Lemongrass (about a half stalk – cut)
Mix together all ingredients. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer 10 minutes.
- This recipe will make enough marinade for 3 lbs of flank steak. Before marinating pierce all over with a fork (both sides). Pour the marinade into a flat pan or plastic bag and add the meat. Marinate up to 24 hours.
- I also used to flavor a basic stir fry near the end of cooking. Delish!