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The Way to a Tourist’s Heart is Alimentary

Indonesia Names Culinary Destinations and National Dishes
As reported by Kompas.com, Indonesia’s Minster of Tourism Arief Yahya clams that the national culinary industry contributes more to the national economy that the creative sector, with as much as 40% of the spending spending on food and beverage.

“One of the motivations for travel is experiencing culinary offerings. When people visit an areas they will most probably seek out the local cuisine. Tourist spending on culinary delights can consume up to 40% off all spending,” said Minister Yahya in an interview at his office on Monday, April 8, 2018. Because of this, Indonesia continues to develop its culinary traditions that can be shared and promoted internationally.

The Agency for the Creative Economy (Bekraf) has designated the Indonesian dish of “soto” (a local soup) as a national culinary specialty. “The choice of ‘Soto’ was made because it best represents Indonesia. It’s easy to make and found everywhere in Indonesia,” explained Yahya.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Tourism has proclaimed in all five Indonesian dishes as part of a “National Menu.” The dishes were select via a forum of culinary experts that, according to the Minster, selected the following five dishes as most representative of Indonesian cuisine:

1. Soto Lamongan

This dish has a thick, yellow broth, with large bihun noodles with the added ingredient of spicey fried shredded coconut (Koya). Soto or traditional soups are found everywhere in Indonesia, each with a special method of preparation reflecting the local scene. For example, Soto Bandung (West Java) features clear broth using a local radish (lobak) as a main component.

2. Rendang

Rendang – a staple at the ubiquitous Padang Restaurants found in every part of Indonesia, was recently declared among the world’s most delicious dishes in a poll conducted by CNN. Generous cuts of beef simmered for hours in coconut milk and chilis achieves an unforgettable balance of the spicy, sweet and savory in this traditional West Sumatra dish that has become a favorite not only for locals, but many visitors to Indonesia.

3. Sate

Sate - kebabs of marinated meats threaded onto sharp wooden or bamboo sticks and then char-broiled to perfection are a favorite across the archipelago. The meats used, the spices employed, and the style of service varies from island to island. Sate Padang (West Sumatra) is made from piece of beef or beef offal served with a thick yellow sauce made from rice flour mixed with beef and offal broth, turmeric, garlic, coriander, galangal root, cumin, curry powder and salt. Sate Madura (East Java) is typically made with chicken smothered in a peanut and scallion sauce. Bali’s Sate Lilit can be made from pork, fish, chicken and beef that will be minced and mixed with grated coconut, coconut milk, lime juice shallots and peppers and then “wrapped” around sticks of lemon grass before being cooked over an open fire.

4. Nasi Goreng

Nasi Goreng or Fried Rice has become synonymous with Indonesian cooking. Again, nasi goreng’s character is bestowed by the area in which it is made and the meat or seafood selection used. Traditionally, it was a come-what-may dish that used yesterday’s leftover rice and table scraps augmented with spices, onion, garlic and even pungent fish paste (terasi). For an added kick, Nasi Goreng is normally presented with freshly made sambal (Chili) sauce.

5. Gado-Gado

This distinctively Indonesian salad is made from blanched vegetable, hard-boiled eggs, boiled potatoes, fried tofu, fried bead curd (tempe) and boiled rice cakes (lontong) smothered in a thick spicy peanut sauce. Similar dishes are prepared in Badung, West Java where it is known as lotek and in Java in a variant known as pecel.

While these five dishes have been named part of Indonesia's “national menu,” the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has declared Bali, Joglosemar (Jogja, Solo and Semarang), and Bandung as Indonesian culinary destinations. These three areas earned the distinction as “culinary destinations,” according to the Tourism Minister, because each has its own distinctive types of cuisine, the strong commitment to the culinary arts demonstrated by the local government, and the active promotion of the region’s food internationally.

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