Seblak: More a Condiment, Less a Snack

Seblak: More a Condiment, Less a Snack

Indonesia is very renowned for its plethora of street food that caters to any palate, regardless of whether they prefer their treat sweet, salty, savoury or spicy. One snack that has been making the rounds so to speak is Seblak (wet crackers with egg, chicken, seafood or beef in spicy sauce), which you may be already addicted to. Let’s delve more into the origins behind its name, shall we?

Bandung in West Java was the first place where Seblak came into being. It then began to spread out to other cities including Jakarta. Despite this, some believe that Seblak originated from Sumpiuh in Banyumas as it shares similar characteristics to a dish unique to this city in Central Java called Kerupuk Godog (boiled crackers). However, it is worth noting that Kerupuk Godog has been a favourite of the people in Sumpiuh since the 1940s, whilst Seblak only became popular in the noughties.

The word “seblak” actually refers to the condiments that are used to make this treat: a spicy mixture of aromatic ginger with chilli. It has now become the moniker of the dish itself, which is can be eaten dry or wet. Seblak Kering (dry crackers) has its roots in South Cianjur and is shaped like a normal cracker that has been dabbed with chilli powder. Its spiciness level can be selected according to one’s preference. On the other hand, Seblak Basah (wet crackers) comprises fried crackers and various other ingredients that are then drizzled with a bit of water.

Seblak in itself is actually regarded as a method to avoid letting crackers that are on their last legs go to waste by frying them. Mix them with a bit of seasonings and other ingredients, sprinkle them with water until they get a wee bit soggy, and there you go. Back then, sellers would only serve Seblak with Telur Orak-Arik (vegetables mixed with egg) but now, you can have it with all sorts of toppings, including meatballs, sausages and even chicken feet.

Not all types of crackers can be used to make a Seblak though. Each and every cracker has a different flavour and texture, but the most commonly used are fish crackers and Kerupuk Aci (tapioca crackers) – the latter tends to be served with fried rice and Nasi Uduk (steamed rice cooked in coconut milk). Its shape and size would also need to be taken into consideration, although medium-sized tapioca crackers would do just fine. Some purveyors also like to add a bit of Makaroni Ulir (fusilli-shaped macaroni) for decorative purposes.

Seblak is perfect for a semi-soupy nibble during a hot afternoon and is available everywhere. Just don’t blame us if you get addicted to it.


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