Food Note: Kupat Tahu

Common in Sunda (Jawa Barat) and Jawa (Jawa Tengah and Jawa Timur), Kupat Tahu is one of the favourite dish you would most likely finds in street than at home. Though the ingredients are fairly simple; kupat (rice cake), tahu (bean curd), tauge (bean sprouts), and slices of cucumber, the creation of kupat and the peanut sauce is quite laborous for only a small serving portions. Therefore, it's more economical to have them from the food sellers instead.

Upon a crave attack you can create the sauce yourself though, using the dissolved bumbu pecel available at the market, then fine-seasoning the sauce yourself; but they usually already contains strong taste of kencur (galangal roots), unlike the lighter peanut sauce uses in kupat tahu.

From one places to another, there are differences in ingredients used and the thickness of the peanut sauce. Kupat Tahu Magelang style for example, consists also chopped bakwan, sliced kubis (cabbage) instead of cucumber, and with thinner peanut sauce; on the contrary to Sundanese (Bandung, Garut, Tasikmalaya) style of kupat tahu which includes a very thick peanut sauce. Some other versions, also includes egg omelette in the mix, and just like Bubur Ayam, kerupuk (crackers) is mandatory.

A lighter version of Kupat Tahu is called Kupat Tahu Sayur; and this version usually replace the thick peanut sauce with the light watery soup which tastes a bit like curry. For more courageous alternative, there's also this version that called Kupat Tahu Petis, which include a dose of petis (fermented shrimp head pate) that adds the pungent sweet seafood taste to the already sweet peanut sauce.

A version with rice vermicelli common in Jakarta is called Ketoprak. Lets not be confused with other Ketoprak originated from Java which is a form of theatrical drama.

Expect to pay about 5 - 7K for the egg-less version, 10K with the omelette. And as far as I remembered, I have never encountered this particular dish in a fancy restaurant, so you might have to adventure beyond your comfort and save zone to the warungs or roadside food courts. Happy hunting! (bay)