Turn Up The Heat, It’s Mealtime

– Compiled by Kate Morrow, ETA in Pangkal Pinang –

“Can you eat this?” or “Is there spicy food in your place?” These are common questions ETAs encounter regarding the topic of spicy food. To celebrate the end of our first semester and an increase in our bodies’ tolerance for makanan pedas (spicy food), we’ve compiled a list of spicy Indonesian foods, as told by our cohort (in no particular order).

1. Penyet

This dish uses a special sambal (Indonesia’s umbrella term for a spicy sauce which varies by region throughout the archipelago) traditionally made from anchovies, chili, shallots, and shrimp paste. It’s associated with Surabaya in East Java.

2. Rusip

In short, this is a sauce made from fermented fish and red onion. There’s chili somewhere in the mix, but trust us – it’s like fire, and especially cherished in Bangka Belitung.

3. Ikan Bakar pakai Dabu-Dabu

This dish, grilled fish with Dabu-Dabu, a spicy sambal from North Sulawesi, combines fresh seafood with a sauce that traditionally uses two different kinds of chili, shallots, tomato, and lime juice for an especially robust flavor.

4. Mie Setan (Devil Noodles)

This dish shares a name with a popular restaurant chain in Java, from which you can choose from various levels of spice. One ETA described it as “spicy for the sake of being spicy.”

5. Seblok

A traditional food from Bandung, this dish features a range of chilis, cabbage, parsley, and black pepper, and offers a spectrum of flavor for anyone brave enough to try it.

6. Ayam pakai Dabu-Dabu

Here we have Dabu-Dabu make another guest appearance, this time accompanied by chicken. Our ETAs in Sulawesi are pretty confident this is as spicy as it gets, regardless of the meat. Word to the wise: be sure you have lots of rice on hand when trying this dish for the first time.

7. Sambal from Bajawa

One ETA observed that Indonesian food tends to get spicier the further she goes into the mountains. This particular sambal uses chili pepe, a small but formidable pepper option especially popular in Flores, NTT.

The number one contender? Coming in at first place is…sambal! Guaranteed to add a kick to every meal, every time. Hati-Hati, friends.

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