Soto is actually the name of Indonesian dish that resembles soup but cooked with lots of herbs and spices. There are many variations of soto in Indonesia, and it seems like that every province has there own version of soto. There are many variations of ingredients used to make this super delicious dish, but the main ingredient is usually something meaty, such as beef, ribs, chicken, prawns, or even fish. The meat plays a very important part to make a good broth. Then we will mix the broth with herbs and spices to make them even more delicious. You can tell if a soto dish is good or not just by looking at the color and slurping the broth. Once you taste one spoonful of broth, you will already know if the dish is good enough or not.
We eat soto for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and sometimes if we’re hungry in between meals, hahaha………………….yes, that is to describe how famous this dish is in Indonesia and it plays a big part in people’s daily life. Soto can be easily found everywhere, from street food vendors to 5 starts restaurants, but you will mostly find soto served hot with steam rice as a family meal on the dining table, cooked by the chef of the house aka. the mother.
Although the main ingredients can be different, but actually the herbs and spices are mostly the same…………….well, maybe a bit different but not that much. The one thing that really differentiate is actually the broth, because chicken broth will taste different than beef broth or other broths.
One other thing in common is that we eat soto with lots of condiments, such as vegetables (potatoes, cabbages, bean sprout), boiled egg, perkedel or fried mashed potato, keropok or crackers, topped with fried shallots, spring onion or celery, poya or shrimp crackers crumbs, and not to forget to squeeze some lime juice, add sweet soy sauce, and at least one spoonful of hand made chili sauce. That is so yummy and so addictive……………..
I make soto quite often as it is one of my family’s favorite dish. When my sister was visiting us, she also requested soto to be served as our dinner. Yes, that is how much we love this comfort food.
I’ve posted a recipe for soto ayam or soto which was made from chicken broth here, but this time I will be posting a different kind of soto which is made from shrimps. Originally, this dish came from Medan, North Sumatera, Indonesia. If you ever heard of Lake Toba, that this is the place where the lake is located. It is a famous tourist destination in Sumatera, Indonesia.
I made a clear soup and didn’t make the one that use coconut milk (there are 2 versions of the broths), and we really loved the taste. Well for me, as long as my boy approved the taste, it was good enough for me (oh, motherhood…………..). My husband didn’t eat it because he couldn’t eat shrimps, so no comments from him. My son and I loved the broth so much and indeed, it was so delicious and refreshing that I was thinking of why I didn’t make this earlier.
Oh well, this is the recipe……………….
The recipe is for 2 portions
- 1/2 kg shrimps or prawns
- 1 large red onion / large shallots or 8 shallots
- 6 garlic
- 5 candlenuts, stir fry until fragrant in a non stick pan without oil
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tbsp salt, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp cumin / jinten in Bahasa Indonesia (optional, although you can skip it, but I always loves adding cumin when cooking some of my dishes)
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 10 lime leaves
- 1 thumb of galangal, cut in thin slices
- 1 thumb of ginger, cut in thin slices
- 5 salam leaves
- 1 lemongrass, peel off any dry or tough outer layers then cut diagonally into 5 (don’t just use the bottom part of the lemongrass, use the whole lemongrass to improve the flavor of the dish)
- 2 tbsp of oil
- 1.5 L of water
- 5 big celery
- fried shallot (store bought, ready to use)
- minced coriander leaves
- minced spring onion
- 1 potato, cut into 6
- 1 tomato, cut into thin round shapes
- 100 gr bean sprout, cook in boiling water for 1 minute, then strain and set aside
- 20 gr rice vermicelli (soak in cold water for 15 minutes, then cook in boiling water for 10 seconds, then strain and set aside)
- Peel the shrimps and seperate the shells and head. Devein the shrimps and clean under running water. Set aside the shrimps in a small bowl
- Rinse thoroughly shrimp shells and heads under cold running water, then set aside in a bowl
- Squeeze lime juice from 2 limes unto the shrimp shells and heads (this is to remove the fishy smell)
- Prepare the spices and herbs: In a blender or food processor, add together: large red onion, garlic, candlenuts, coriander powder, salt, cumin, and turmeric powder. Process until they form a paste
- Heat a wok with 2 tbs of cooking oil, then add the paste from step number 4, lime leaves, galangal, ginger, and salam leaves. Stir fry until fragrant
- Add the shrimps shells and head, keep stirring until they change into pink color
- Add 1.5 L of water
- Bring the pot to boil then turn to low heat to simmer for 1 hour. The water will reduce into 1 L
- Turn off the heat, add 5 big celery, stir, then wait for another 15 minutes to let it cool
- Set up a mesh strainer over another soup pot and strain stock from other ingredients
- While waiting for the shrimp stock to be cooked, the shrimps must be kept in the refrigerator
- After straining the stock into a pot, bring the stock to boil
- Add cut potatoes into the pot until half cooked
- Add shrimps into the pot and cook until they change into pink color. Turn off the heat
- Prepare in 2 serving bowls: cut tomatoes, bean sprouts, rice vermicelli, 1 tbsp fried shallots, 1/2 tbsp minced coriander leaves, 1/2 tbsp minced spring onion, and squueze lime juice from 1 lime
- Add potatoes and shrimps to the serving bowls
- Pour the soup onto the bowls and serve with chili sauce (the recipe for the chili sauce in this this post)