Post 101. That means we have posted 100+ entries on this blog since I started two years and 9 months ago! It’s been a fun way of sharing food adventures and recipes, and the plan is to continue until I run out of inspiration, which will probably be: never!
So here’s something I want to share with my online family, just like we do at all family parties: Kroepoek!
While it doesn’t involve a lot of “cooking” this quick snack is worth mentioning, since not many (non-Asian) people may know what kroepoek is. This must be one of the easiest snacks in the world to serve (next to a bag of potato chips). You just buy it and fry it!
Besides various spellings of kroepoek (krupuk, kerupuk), they also come in a variety of colors and flavors. You can buy a box in most Asian grocery stores or farmer’s markets. All you have to do is fry the thin medallions in hot oil, and voila! You’ll have a yummy snack in minutes.
Of course you could make kroepoek from scratch, but I would not want to mess with it. Kroepoek is made of a paste of starch (rice or tapioca) mixed with shrimp, fish, onions or other ingredients for more flavor. The paste is rolled out, steamed, sliced and sundried to remove any moisture in it. When frying, kroepoek will expand to twice or more its initial size, almost like popcorn does when popped. To keep the crispness, you should store kroepoek in an airtight container, because it will get tough when absorbing moisture. (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krupuk)
A word of caution: DO NOT walk away or turn your head when frying kroepoek! Why? Because it will get burned before you turn back! When I said a ‘quick’ snack, I really meant quick!
The oil has to be really hot before frying, and the heat turned down a bit during the frying process, to avoid burning the chips before they’re done. However, chips will absorb too much grease if the oil is not hot enough. It takes some experimenting to get this right, because stoves, pots and pans are different, but also because kroepoek fries in only few seconds. For that reason, I never fry more than 5 pieces at the same time; they would all get burned.
Here’s a little secret: it seems that you can also microwave kroepoek! I’m so used to the traditional way of frying kroepoek that I was surprised to learn that you can also microwave it!! But, if you can microwave popcorn, you could do the same with kroepoek. I had to try it out and see the difference. For one thing, it would be fat-free (or so I thought) and I like that very much. A few nights ago, I popped some in the microwave to check it out.
It took only a few seconds for the popping to start, but from the photo you can tell that the discs didn’t expand as much as in the oil. In addition the edges were still hard and almost uncooked. The center tasted good though and if you only want a few at the time, using the microwave is a good option. Just like in too hot oil, kroepoek can also burn in the microwave, so watch it!
Our family favorites are the prawn crackers, made with shrimp. They can be eaten plain or added to your plate of fried rice or rice with Javanese chicken.
Other snacks I grew up on are Rempejek and Intip, Intip being the easier and more common one of these two. Intip is a Javanese rice cake, made of leftover cooked rice that has been sundried and then fried in hot oil. Take out before it gets brown and sprinkle salt (before or) after frying. I find Intip crispier than store bought rice cakes.
Rempejek is more complicated but a great savory snack. Instead of a dried cakes or chips, a thin batter is prepared with flour, rice and/or cornstarch, coconut milk, finely mashed garlic, seasoning and then deep-fried like a thin pancake or crepe, until it’s completely crisp and before it gets too dark. Rempejek can have a variety of fillings like: roasted peanuts dried mini shrimps or dried black-eye peas, added to the batter before
If you haven’t tried it yet, go for it! Surprise your friends and family at the next party or dinner. Buy a box of kroepoek, fry and enjoy!