Surabaya, Indonesia – The Food of the patriot city

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By Sheren Lianto


Surabaya is the second-largest city in Indonesia and it is called the city of the patriot because there are so many historical and patriotic moments that happened in Surabaya. Surabaya is located in East Java. Surabaya has many kinds of traditional and historical cuisine too, such as “ Rujak Cingur”.

Rujak cingur is one of the most popular food in Indonesia because the ingredients and the texture is unique. Rujak cingur’s main ingredients is “ Cingur ” which means mouth and commonly the local used cow’s mouth. To make this dish, there are 2 components, the rujak and the cingur. To make cingur the ingredients are :

  • 250 g Cingur ( Cow’s mouth )
  • 50 g Bean sprouts
  • 2 bunch of Kale
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 1 Jicama
  • 1/2 portion Tempe ( Indonesia’s traditional soy product, made of fermented soybeans )
  • 2 portion Tofu

To make cingur, first wash the cingur/cow’s mouth until it is cleaned , after that boil the cingur until tender, drain, then cut into pieces, and then boiled the leaves of the kale until it’s cooked, and for the bean sprouts soak it with hot water and drain it, after that cut the cucumber and jicama thin, set aside, lastly fried the tempeh and tofu until cooked, then cut into slices.

And for the rujak, the ingredients are :

  • 8 Cayenne pepper ( optional )
  • 3 tbs Fried peanuts
  • 2 tbs shrimp paste ( Petis )
  • 2 cloves Fried garlic
  • 4 tbs Tamarind water ( Air Asam Jawa )
  • 2 tbsp Brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 2 Klutuk Banana ( Pisang klutuk )
  • A little bit of Water

Rujak is like the sauce of this dish, but without the rujak, there won’t be any taste, that’s why the rujak is a really important part too in this dish. Because if the rujak is ruined, then the other ingredients will be ruined too. Always remember to taste first before putting something in the rujak.

To make rujak first puree cayenne pepper, peanuts, garlic, brown sugar, salt, and klutuk banana, after that add shrimp paste, tamarind water, and enough water, stir well, prepare the vegetables, cingur, tofu, and fried tempeh on a plate, lastly put the rujak on top of the vegetables, and for the texture, it can be served with some fried garlic and shrimp crackers.

There are many of the ingredients that are hard to found anywhere except in Indonesia, such as tempeh, shrimp paste ( petis ) , tamarind water ( air Asam Jawa ), klutuk banana. And this what makes this dish is unique and authentic, this dish used a lot of Indonesia’s traditional seasoning.

There is a story about where did Rujak Cingur was made and how it became one of the traditional food in Indonesia. So, Long ago in Masiran, the revered king Pharaoh Hanyokrowati. On his birthday, he called all the palace cooks to provide special dishes for himself. King Pharaoh has tried all the dishes that have been made for him, but nothing fits on the tongue.

Suddenly a royal courtier enters to face King Pharaoh and says there is someone who wants to serve food to the king. The person named Abdul Rozak and he served a dish wrapped in banana leaves. The food has been checked by health experts in the kingdom and confirmed safe. After the king tasted the food, he ate with gusto and his sweat was pouring because it was so spicy.

Abdul Rozak was rewarded with a luxurious ship and a piece of land and was appointed to be the head of the palace cook. But, he refused and was only willing to accept ships to wander. The king agreed as long as he wanted to give the recipe. Abdul Rozak wandered by boat and stopped at Tanjung Perak, Surabaya and spread the recipe.

Because he had difficulty to get camel as cingur there, he replaced the camel as cingur with the cow as cingur which turned out to make it taste more delicious. People in Surabaya also came to Abdul Rozak to taste the rujak. Because residents find it difficult to say the word ‘rozak’, so they called this dish “rujak cingur”.

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