Brem (fermented glutinous rice) is a snack that may sound unfamiliar to most Indonesians. However, frequent travellers to East Java should be in the know of this small bite – especially those who tend to visit Madiun or Wonogiri, where people would buy them as souvenirs. The inhabitants of Bali, however, see Brem as a form of beverage.
The most well-known type of Brem is the white-coloured Brem Madiun, which are block in shape and features a sweet-and-sour taste. The sweet-flavoured Brem Wonogiri possesses a round design, is white in colour, and melts immediately in the mouth. At the other end of the spectrum is the highly alcoholic and liquid Brem Bali. Despite their different physical appearances and flavours, all three are made using the same ingredient: fermented glutinous rice that is immersed in water for a good 24 hours.
The production centre of Brem is found in Desa Caruban, which has been going on for generations. Generally, each family would have its own secret method to churn out Brem. However, most of the brands that are available use the word “suling” in their name, such as Suling Gading, Suling Mustika, Suling Ariska, Suling Aneka, Suling Bima, Suling Andika, Suling Mas, and Suling Istimewa.
Brem has its benefits when consumed, despite many not being able to stomach it due to its alcoholic quality. Its low level of alcohol is known to be able to increase the hormones in our body that is believed to be helpful for our arteries. Based on a research done by a food and nutrition institute in the Netherlands, the risk of suffering a heart attack can be reduced by the non-excessive consumption of alcohol. Alcohol can also be useful in minimising the possibility of blood clots forming in the artery due to infection, lessen acidity levels in the blood, and decreasing the chances of thrombosis. Another advantage is its capability to increase the amount of DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) that boosts the flow of blood through the body.
Besides its positive effects on our blood circulation, Brem can also work wonders for facial skincare. The people of Madiun believe that Brem can soften one’s facial skin and get rid of pimples. Of course you will still need to eat it rather than applying it to your face.
Make sure to drop by a gift shop to buy a box of Brem if you find yourself in East Java. Its delightful sweet-and-sour taste is guaranteed to keep you coming back for more.