On the hunt for delectable snacks

Caca, a sotong pangkong (dried squid) vendor, serves a customer at her street stall on Jl. Merdeka, Pontianak, West Kalimantan, on Saturday. Sotong pangkong, a popular dish eaten to break the fast, is grilled on hot charcoal and then flattened with a mallet.

The Jakarta Post/ Asia News Network

Wednesday, Jul 09, 2014

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The most popular dishes to chow down on when breaking the fast are sweet, such as beverages like kolak pisang (banana cooked in coconut milk and palm sugar).

However, there are plenty of unique dishes that are only available during Ramadhan.

In Banyumas, Central Java, freshwater snails, usually found in the paddy fields and commonly used to feed ducks, are a sought after snack. The dish is called kraca or keong in Banyumas and tutut in Jakarta.

"It tastes good, especially when cooked in coconut milk and lots of chili," said Yuni, 30, a housewife who regularly buys snail curry every Ramadan.

She lamented that the price of snails had gradually increased, in-line with demand.

"A kilogram of cooked keong is now Rp 20,000 (S$2.20), compared to Rp 5,000 five years ago," Yuni said, adding that she remained a loyal customer.

Wartijah, 46, a keong curry seller at the Pasar Wage Market, said the dish was expensive because it was hard to get snails and the dish required patience to make.

"Now, we rely on snail supplies from Demak and Rembang [in Central Java], as the supply in Banyumas has all but fizzled out," said Wartijah, adding she would buy up to 200 kg of raw snails at a time.

The freshwater snails, she said, had to be boiled for quite a long time before being added to the other ingredients.

"We must remove the dirt and then boil them together with their shells," said Wartijah, who starts selling keong curry at 3 p.m. until dusk.

Hundreds of other keong sellers can be easily found along the streets in Banyumas, together with other street food sellers.

Meanwhile, residents in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, are proud of their sotong pangkong (dried squid), another popular dish to break the fast.

Sotong is squid in the local tongue, while pangkong means beat.

Mutadi Abdullah, a lawyer, said he liked to watch how the snack was made: Dried squid is grilled on hot charcoal and then is hit with a hammer until it flattens. The dish is best served, of course, with sambal (spicy chili condiment).

"I like the combination of the squid and the sambal. Sambal plays such a key role in the dish," Mutadi told The Jakarta Post recently.

Yulia Ramadhiyani, a lecturer, said sotong pangkong was her long time favourite snack and it could only be found in Pontianak.

"When I was finishing my post-graduate studies in Surakarta, Central Java, I never saw sotong pangkong. That was why when I returned to Pontianak, the first thing I did came was look for sotong pangkong and enjoy it with my friends," she said.

Yulia believes the determining factor that makes sotong pangkong so fantastic is the way the squid is cooked, as, if the squid was medium rare, the fishy odour could remain.

"The more delicious the sauce, the yummier the sotong pangkong," she said.

Jimi Ibrahim, a civil servant, said the snack could be found all year found, but it was much easier to find during Ramadhan.

"Sotong pangkong is synonymous with Ramadhan because people usually want to eat it after tarawih [evening prayer] with friends and family," Jimi said.

The price can vary between Rp 5,000 and Rp 25,000 depending on the size.


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