Bakso is Indonesian meatball, and is an extremely popular Indonesian food. It’s everywhere; you’re just as likely to find it being sold by street vendors (called kaki lima), mom and pop eateries and swanky restaurants. I used to love ordering these fresh from the street vendors. And having them with all manner of chilli condiments. But I didn’t have to be in Indonesia to enjoy its delights.
Indonesian food has always been easily found in Singapore, given the close proximity of the countries and the many, many Indonesians studying and working on the island. I always had Indonesian classmates, 2 of them come to mind particularly; we met at 13 as classmates, and are still in touch all these years later, thanks to modern technology.
Remember the Chinese meatballs we did about a month ago? These Indonesian meatballs are pretty similar in make up and in the method. In fact, many believe that Bakso was introduced to Indonesia by Chinese immigrants, while others contend that it is a copy of the Western meatballs via the Dutch (Indonesia was a former Dutch colony).
I had half a dozen emails after the Chinese meatballs post to do Bakso, and so here we are, it went right to the top of the to-do list. And all these balls are coinciding perfectly with this post I did on foodies+, the almost 200 000-strong food community that I manage on Google+. I’ve asked all our members to come up with recipes or posts that involve balls, savoury or sweet. And the response has been deliciously overwhelming!
Bakso are pretty easy to make, you only need a few ingredients to make the actual balls. Then, you just drop them in boiling water or stock to cook them, which only takes a couple of minutes or so. It is also not uncommon to fry Bakso, but if you are planning to do that, I would suggest going smaller in size.
For our Bakso recipe today, we’ll do the whole lot, the meatballs, the super easy meat broth and finally, the noodles to serve them up with. In Indonesia, bakso is often served this way, with a side of Sambal Ijo (green chilli past, click for recipe), chopped up chillies in dark soy sauce (like dipping sauce) and the ubiquitous sambal, of any kind. Click here to read more about different types of soy sauces.
Beef Broth for Bakso
If you are planning to serve the bakso as suggested here, with the noodles, don’t take a shortcut with the broth (or soup as we call it). The beef broth may take about 3 hours to make but only 10 minutes of that is actual hands on time, the rest is just about letting it simmer away, as you would when making stock. All you need is some beef bones from your butcher and some aromatics and spices. If you can’t get beef bones, get some beef ribs, plenty of bone, with a little meat.
Bakso, like many other Far Eastern meatballs and fishballs, have an almost rubbery texture. This is from the blending of the ingredients in a food processor, the cornflour and the raising agent. To get this rubbery texture, you need a food processor. Mixing with a spatula won’t give you the same result. However, I am not a fan of that almost tough, elastic feel, so I cut the blending time right down, along with the amount of flour I use in the mix.
How to Serve Bakso
You can serve Bakso with any type of noodles you wish, or non at all. Bakso make fantastic finger food, place them on a platter with a cocktail stick in each, and have some ketchup or chilli sauce on the side.
Slice them up and the make a great filling ingredient in stir fries.
If serving with noodles, as in here, my favourite are rice vermicelli, the thin rice noodles, known as bee hoon or bihun.
If you are using dried noodles, always follow packet instructions for serving and cooking times as they can vary. A rough guide though would be 50 – 75 g (2⅔ oz) per person of dried weight (egg noodles weigh slightly more), to be cooked for 2 – 4 minutes (egg noodles take longer).
Fresh noodles – about twice the weight and they only need about a minute of cooking time.
You can make bakso with any meat you like: chicken, lamb, turkey, pork and even seafood.
That’s it, with all the boring stuff, let’s get cooking! As the method is exactly the same as making Chinese meatballs, here’s my video showing you how to roll them, followed by step by step pictures: