Culinary tourism is currently very popular. We can find lots of shows or stories about food and drinks. Every city or region has a culinary specialty. How about typical cuisine of Jakarta, the capital of this country? Does millennial generation know what is Betawi culinary? Soto betawi is one of the most popular dishes. We can find this typical Jakarta soto (soup) in every place, from street vendor to five-star hotel. So does ketoprak, ketupat sayur and nasi uduk.
But have you heard of sayur besan? Getting rare, sayur besan is typical vegetable Betawi soup consisting of main ingredient terubuk or commonly called the egg of the sugar cane. It is cooked with coconut milk with the addition of potatoes, beans, carrots, glass noodles or vermicelli, and petai.
The name Besan (the in-laws) comes from a grain of terubuk that fused into the two families of symbolizing the blending in the bonds of family through marriage. Times ago, in a traditional Betawi cultural society, families of men will bring sayur besan to be given to the family of the bride.
Over the times it becomes difficult to find terubuk, sayur besan soup is now a rare food. Curious to try the food? You can come to Warung Besan Pak Udin at Parung, Bogor, West Java. Why is Betawi cuisine in West Java? Well, Parung is the border area of South Jakarta and West Java. Many Betawi people who formerly lived in Jakarta now displaced to the edges of Jakarta, as this area of Parung.
Warung Besan located in front of the Koramil Parung and open every day from 11.00 am to 5 pm. The food served is quite diverse. But if you want to taste sayur besan, make sure you come before 1 pm, because it’s the most rapidly depleted.
Menu of Betawi dishes provided here are semur jengkol, pesmol ikan mas, ikan gurame, ikan mujair and ikan bandeng. There is also a menu of pepes peda (salted fish), pepes jamur (mushrooms) and pepes tahu (tofu). We also can find bandeng goreng, kembung goreng, tongkol goreng, dan fried chicken with typical Betawi chili sauce.
Pesmol is a typical Betawi dishes, it feels savory with kencur and coriander used as seasoning with fresh taste that is manifested by the tomato slices in the broth.
Tracing Pecak to the Border of Jakarta
In addition to the pesmol, the Betawi community also has pecak. This Betawi cuisine is rich in spices with a sprinkling of basil, pieces of green tomatoes, and fresh flavor that comes from the star fruit vegetables.
Pecak has a distinctive flavour and aroma. Spices consisting of tamarind, grapefruit, salam, galangal, ginger, turmeric, onion leaves and chilies are spicy but left the freshness and fun sensation on the tongue. Fish which is made to become pecak usually are ikan gurame, ikan mas, ikan mujair, ikan lele serta ikan gabus. In addition to fish, other food ingredients can be made, such as chicken and jengkol.
Want to eat fish that make your tongue clucking?
Please stop by the Betawi’s kitchen Cabe 5 at Ciputat-Parung Road, Depok, West Java. The restaurant is open every day from 10.00 am to 21.00 pm, except Monday. You also can visit their other branches at Pondok Cabe and Cinere.
The decoration of Dapur Betawi Restaurant is full of Betawi’s culture of its typical houses. At the main entrance guests are welcomed by a pair of statues ofondel-ondel (giant puppets). Public transit also displayed often used Betawi residents in the past, bemo, which has been extinct nowadays. Other extinct transport is oplet, which is used as the main vehicle in the legendary TV serial Si Doel Anak Sekolahan. Taking Betawi culture as a diner theme, the owner did not forget having Si Doel family portraits on the walls.
The restaurant carrying the tagline “the world’s almost extinct Foods: Expert of Betawi Cuisine” is indeed try to grab potential market with specialized Betawi culinary, especially the dishes which are already scarce as pecak gurame, sayur besan, semur jengkol and gabus pucung.
Gabus Pucung And Nyorog Tradition
Gabus pucung is a typical food of the original Betawi people in the era of the 70s that have been rare. It’s in the form of cork fish (ikan gabus) combined with a pure sauce that has a taste of salty and savory (pucung). Gabus pucung is now almost extinct because the raw material is difficult to obtain. Its main raw material is cork fish whose habitat lives in river, rice field, or swamp and cannot be cultivated. The pucung fruit which is the ingredients for the black sauce is also a bit hard to find because the growth place that is on the edge of the forest.
Pucung is more familiar as kluwek commonly used to cook rawon, a very popular dishes in East Java. The difference is the sauce for gabus pucung is thicker and savory. Currently pucung is not available in Jakarta and surrounding areas. To get the fruit of pucung, the Betawi cuisine makers should look for it on the outskirts of Bogor forest, Java area, or at traditional markets.
Gabus Pucung is also one of the foods that exist in the tradition of nyoro‘ in Betawi society. Nyorog is a Betawi tradition in the form of the obligation to deliver food to parents, or by the daughter-in-law to the mother-in-law before the fasting month and Hari Raya Lebaran.
Pucung are hard to find because its habitat that is on the edge of the forest. Currently the fruit isn’t there in the areas of Jakarta and its surrounding areas. So, fruit pucung retrieved from Bogor, West Java, and also from Central and East Java. Sometimes they can be found in the forest fringes and in traditional markets.
Gabus pucung can still be found in some restaurants in the suburbs of Jakarta. In addition to the Restaurant Cabe 5, you can enjoy it at other restaurants such as Ibu Arab Restaurant located in Lebak Wangi, Parung or at Warung Gabus Pucung Vila Betawi, Pancoran Mas, Depok.
Traditional Betawi cuisine may sound unfamiliar, especially in the ears of the millennial generation. But with the increasing number of people who care about the preservation of traditional food is expected to cultivate Betawi culinary is not extinct. Hopefully culinary Betawi can be enjoyed by younger generation of this era now and future generations, and in turn can be introduced as national food of Indonesia and become international well-known.