The people of Indonesia are in a league of their own when it comes to inventing snacks from various food ingredients, with those made from Aci (tapioca starch) having become one of the most prominent treats around. Let’s get ourselves familiar with Aci first.
Aci is a moniker in the Sundanese language given for Tepung Kanji (tapioca starch), and it is used not only to thicken soup, but it has also been modified to become nibbles. The general public were only introduced to light bites made from Aci in the noughties, yet our Sundanese friends have been devouring these chewy delights since the 1980s. It now comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and is offered across the country rather than only in West Java.
It first came about in the form Cireng – short for Aci Goreng (fried Aci) – that is still frequently sold by fritter hawkers along with fried banana, fried tofu, Risoles (rissole), Bakwan (vegetable fritter) and fried yam. Now, however, you have the likes of Cilok, or Aci Colok (skewered Aci), which is the result of Aci being moulded into circular meatball-like shapes, boiled, and served with peanut sauce or sambal. One can also add shards of egg inside them. And then there’s Cimol or Aci di-Gemol (round-shaped Aci), with “gemol” a Sundanese word meaning “make into a rounded shape”. The preparation method for Cimol involves frying them and then dishing them out with chilli powder. You also have Cilor or Aci Telor (fried egg with Aci), where the Aci is cut into small squares and then fried with the egg. It is then put inside a glass and crushed before being topped with powdered flavouring.
Cireng in itself has undergone a series of refashioning. Now you can find Cireng Isi (stuffed fried Aci), which is essentially Cireng that is filled with stuffing such as cheese, sausage, corned beef, or Bakso (meatball). People have also devised a way to eat Cireng with the sambal from Rujak (vegetable salad), with its savoury flavour making it an ideal afternoon treat.
Cipuk or Aci Kerupuk (Aci crackers) is the latest variation that not many people may know about and is still quite difficult to obtain. As its name suggests, its main component is raw crackers that have been smashed and soaked in water. They are subsequently mixed with the Aci batter – comprising Aci, salt, pepper, onion, and powdered flavouring – and then steamed to alleviate moisture and make the Cipuk firmer and denser. Following that, they are to be cut into smaller pieces and fried.
Now that you’re clued up on the many types of Aci that you can stuff your face with, it’s time to track them down. Enjoy!
You can also read this story here.