Food Note: Bubur Ayam (Indonesian Chicken Porridge)
Bubur Ayam is one of the favourite breakfast in Indonesia. Heavily influenced by the chinese, Indonesian Chicken Porridge though is considerably thicker than its chinese counterpart congee. So thick that in Mang Oyo; a famous Bubur Ayam eateries in Bandung, Jawa Barat, mang Oyo himself used to turn the bowl upside down in front of the customers, and the porridge wont drip or drop. Still it's soft and tender to the mouth though, after all it's a porridge.
The way Indonesians have it varied slightly from place to place, but they consist mainly of the rice porridge, which often is lightly seasoned with garam (sea salt), serai (lemongrass), and daun salam (local version of bay leaves). Seldom there is, traces of meat broth which commonly found in chinese congee. Roadside sellers usually includes also monosodium glutamate (MSG) which locals calls "vetsin" to enhance the taste, but usually it's just in trace amount.
As toppings, shredded chicken is a must, accompanied by chopped seledri (celery), cakwe (flour cake), and sometimes kacang kedelai (fried soybeans). Kerupuk (crakers) is a must, and in some places they pair the kerupuk with emping (gnetum crackers), or replace the kerupuk with cheese sticks. And lets not forget the magical combo of kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) and kecap asin (salted soy sauce). Some version (most notably Sukabumi's style) also includes sprays of curry-like liquids on top of the dish to enhance the taste.
Beside chicken, the extra topping you could gets are ati ayam (chicken liver), ampela (gizzard), and sometimes (most common in Jakarta's style) various kinds of sate (satay); sate telor puyuh (quail eggs), sate usus (chicken intestines), jantung (chicken heart), or mix them alltogether. Sometimes they serves boiled chicken eggs too, but the real beauty exist in dropping a raw egg yolk into the hot porridge. Beef, fish, seafood, and, Telur Pitan (century egg) are all uncommon in regular Bubur Ayam vendors, but you might find them in some chinese restaurants.
Last but not least; the fiery sambal. As for myself, this is the ingredients I usually avoid. Eventhough raised by a sambal loving parents, I never get to acquire the joy of eating hot fiery foods. Endure I can, but craving is out of question.
Sold in mornings and sometimes available up into the wee hours, a dish of Bubur Ayam from a street vendor would cost you about 5K, while on a more established warungs or stationed vendor then expect to pay around 10K; usually with significant increase in quality anyway. The fancier the restaurant, expect to pay even more, with not much increase in food's quality. (bay)
About author: Bayu Amus
Bayu Amus is a gastronomic storyteller and Food Experience designer. He pens food articles for travel magazines, speaks on food events, and was part of the team who compiled Makansutra Indonesia 2013, the pocket book which showcases Bali’s best street food. Contact him through firstname.lastname@example.org