One of the benefits of living on a small Dutch island is the rich culinary history of past Dutch possessions that has become part of modern day culture. In particular, the Dutch once controlled large swaths of Indonesia, and people from Indonesia emigrated to Holland and to Dutch Guyana, which, about 50 years ago, became Suriname. And here on Bonaire, the Surinamese have a thriving local community, bringing with them Indonesian cuisine, modified by the availability of local ingredients.
On the menus of most of the snacks (small eateries) you’ll find dishes like Nasi Goreng or Bami Goreng, for example, and the super markets always carry Indonesian-style dried spices, sambal, and Ketsap (also known as Ketjap or Kecap).
One of our favorite localized Indonesian dishes before we moved more towards a low-carb life style was “Bami”, which are seasoned fried noodles, similar to lo mein, but with a distinctly Indonesian style.
Without further ado, below is my localized recipe for Indonesian-style Bami, in honor of our friend Dara who is visiting with us at the moment, and who also requested this dish for dinner tonight. Special thanks go to Rudolph from Suriname, who pointed me in the right direction for this recipe.
(Ingredient measurement are approximate – experiment to find the right flavor for your taste)
- Mie noodles or spaghetti (2 lbs for the size portion I made)
- 2-3 Tablespoons of vegetable or peanut oil
- 5-10 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 large white onion, finely sliced
- 4-8 Chicken bouillon cubes (can use vegetable bouillon cubes too) this adds salt to the recipe
- 1-2 cups of brown sugar
- 1 cup of Ketsap Manis (a very sweet soy sauce – can use regular soy sauce and increase amount of brown sugar instead)
- 1 cup of finely chopped Selderie leaf (leaves look a bit like cilantro but taste and odor is very much like celery, since it’s a leafy version of celery – means you can also just use regular celery leaf if that’s all you can find)
- (optional) 1 cup of thinly sliced scallions
- (optional) Peanut sauce (as used with Satay)
- Cook 2lbs of mie or spaghetti al dente, rinse with cold water to stop it from cooking and to remove excess starch. Set aside.
- In a wok, add oil, cook the garlic and onion until the onion turns glassy but before the garlic starts to get really brown
- After the garlic & onions start cooking, but before they reach the end phase in the above paragraph, add the bouillon cubes, mash them down to help them dissolve in the oil
- Add brown sugar, stir
- As soon as the resulting mixture starts to bubble brown (means that caramelization is imminent), add the Ketsap Manis, stir
- Immediately add the spaghetti, and use two long forks (BBQ forks work well for this) to start stirring/tossing the spaghetti to both heat it up as well as distribute the mixture thoroughly throughout the noodles, which should become evenly colored – a nice brown color.
- Continue this mixing/tossing until the noodles are nice and hot and then add the scallions if you want them. Stir some more and then add the selderie leaf.
- Remove from heat and serve with optional peanut sauce and grilled oriental style (soy-based marinade or teriyaki) chicken, and perhaps some sambal (spicy pepper relish, also Indonesian).