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Kecap Manis

While it could be confused from a distance for oyster sauce or just standard soy sauce, kecap manis is neither. Instead, it’s a thick, sweet sauce made from a soy sauce base that’s simmered with palm or coconut sugar alongside spices like star anise, clove, black pepper, cinnamon, and sometimes others. It’s kind of similar to an Indonesian teriyaki sauce, albeit with a slightly more interesting flavor alongside the increased sweetness.

The end result of this process is a sauce that’s thick, sweet, savory, and just generally very satisfying and tasty alongside so many Indonesian dishes.

Kecap manis is not just the most popular condiment in Indonesia — it’s used everywhere and almost all soy sauce production in the country (over 90%) goes towards making it. It’s popular as a marinade, to baste on grilled food and satay, in mie goreng and other noodle dishes, in stir fries, as a dipping sauce, or drizzled on top of certain foods. While it’s obviously not as common in the US or Canada as it is in its home country, you’ve tasted it if you’ve eaten the popular Indonesian instant noodle, Indomie, which comes with seasoning packets that include kecap manis, chili sauce, and fried onion flakes.

You can find kecap manis in Uwajimaya’s condiments aisle.