Tofu Bacem comes from DI Yogyakarta (a special region), Central Java, Indonesia. Bacem Tofu is a popular vegetarian option and is enjoyed by many people for its sweet and savory taste and soft texture.
The ingredients for making tofu bacem are white tofu, coconut water, water, brown sugar, bay leaf, galangal. Subtle spices are onion, garlic, coriander, peppercorns, salt. Choose good quality tofu to get the best tofu bacem whose texture is sturdy and doesn’t break easily.
But First a Little History of Yogyakarta
Yogyakarta, also known as Jogja, is a city located on the island of Java in Indonesia. The city has a rich history that dates back to the 8th century, when it was part of the ancient Mataram Kingdom. In the 16th century, Yogyakarta became the capital of the Sultanate of Mataram, which lasted until the Dutch colonial period in the 19th century. During this time, Yogyakarta was an important center of Javanese culture and arts, including gamelan music, batik fabric, and wayang puppetry.
In 1945, Indonesia declared its independence from the Dutch, and Yogyakarta became a special region ruled by the Sultan. The city played a significant role in the struggle for independence and is often referred to as the birthplace of the Indonesian independence movement. Today, Yogyakarta remains a center of Javanese culture and arts, with many historic landmarks, such as the Kraton Palace, Taman Sari Water Castle, and Borobudur Temple, attracting tourists from around the world.
Yogyakarta is nestled between the picturesque mountains and the Indian Ocean; Yogyakarta is a popular destination for tourists and adventurers alike. With its rich cultural heritage and stunning natural beauty, Yogyakarta offers a unique experience that is sure to captivate visitors. Whether you’re interested in exploring ancient temples, sampling delicious local cuisine, or simply relaxing on a beautiful beach, Yogyakarta has something for everyone.
More About Bacem Tofu
The word ‘Bacem’ or ‘Membacem’ means soaking and boiling food ingredients such as tempe, tofu (best to use firm or extra firm tofu), or chicken with soy sauce and spices. This type of tofu is a traditional Javanese dish is marinated and then braised in a mixture of spices and coconut sugar.
Bacem tofu is known for its unique and flavorful marinade. Bacem tofu made by combining a variety of ingredients. Coriander, garlic, and shallots are often used as the base for the marinade, providing a savory and aromatic flavor. Tamarind, a sour fruit commonly used in Indonesian cuisine, is added to the mix to provide a tangy and slightly sweet flavor. Coconut sugar, which is derived from the sap of coconut palms, is used to provide a natural sweetness to the dish.
Why is sugar used in this dish? In the 19th century, Bacem was created during the Dutch colonial period and became a symbol of poverty at that time. At that time, the local population was forced to cultivate sugar cane, especially in the areas of Central Java and Yogyakarta. Today, there are many sugar cane factories because of the many sugarcane plantations. Since sugar is so plentiful, it has become a very cheap ingredient. Bacem Tofu also uses a little bit of this spice, coriander. The price of coriander is also not expensive. This is why so many in Java often use sugar and coriander as food ingredients in their delicious dishes.
The tofu is cut into small pieces to allow the marinade to penetrate the tofu, resulting in a flavorful and tender texture. The tofu is usually left to marinate for several hours or overnight, allowing the flavors to fully develop. Once the tofu is marinated, it is then braised in a mixture of coconut milk, water, and more spices to create a rich and aromatic sauce that complements the tofu.
Overall, the combination of the savory and sweet flavors in the marinade and the tender texture of the tofu makes Bacem Tofu a delicious and popular dish in Indonesian cuisine. Bacem Tofu is often served as a side dish or a snack, and it pairs well with steamed rice or other Javanese dishes.
Additional Information on Bacem Tofu
While bacem tofu is typically eaten as a standalone dish, it can also be used as an ingredient in other dishes. One popular way to use bacem tofu is in nasi liwet, a traditional Indonesian rice dish. Nasi liwet is a traditional Indonesian rice dish that originated in Central Java, particularly in the city of Solo. The dish is typically made by cooking rice with coconut milk and a variety of aromatic herbs and spices, such as bay leaves, lemongrass, and shallots. The resulting rice is fluffy, fragrant, and slightly sweet.
Nasi liwet is usually served with a variety of side dishes, such as fried chicken, fried tempeh, tofu, eggs, and vegetables, as well as sambal (a spicy chili sauce). The side dishes are often arranged on a large platter or banana leaf, and diners will typically help themselves to the rice and side dishes using their hands.
Nasi liwet is a popular dish in Indonesia, particularly in Java, and is often served at special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, and religious festivals. It is also commonly found in warungs (small street-side eateries) and restaurants throughout the country.
Besides finding bacem tofu in the popular dish, nasi liwet, bacem tofu can also be added to stir-fries, soups, and salads to add flavor and texture. Additionally, it can be sliced and used as a filling for sandwiches or wraps.
It’s worth noting that bacem tofu is typically not used in processed foods, as it is a traditional Indonesian dish that is usually made fresh in homes and restaurants. However, some Indonesian food companies may offer packaged bacem tofu as a ready-to-eat meal or snack.
Another way to use bacem tofu is with chicken. One does not have to use tempeh (a fermented, high-protein, plant-based food typically made with soybeans) only anymore. Today, a lot of people also prepare bacem tofu with chicken. If you want to use chicken, we typically use one whole chicken, cut into about 10-12 pieces. But for those like me who love tradition, my family will stick with having tempeh and bacem tofu together. Nothing like remembering those growing up days having bacem tofu and tempeh as an afternoon snack after a long hard day of memorizing mathematical equations in primary school!
Simple, Yet Delicious Recipe Using Tofu Bacem
There are a variety of ways to make a tasty dish using bacem tofu. Here is one that is known to be really flavorful with a sweet and savory sauce.
- 1 block of firm tofu, cut into bite-size pieces
- 2 cups of water
- 1/4 cup of sweet soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of tamarind paste
- 2 tablespoons of palm sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
- Cooking oil
Here are the instructions:
- Heat a small amount of cooking oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and crushed coriander seeds, and stir until fragrant.
- Add the water, sweet soy sauce, tamarind paste, palm sugar, bay leaves, salt, and black pepper to the pan. Stir to combine.
- Add the tofu pieces to the pan and bring the sauce to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer the tofu in the sauce for about 30-40 minutes, or until the tofu has absorbed the flavors of the sauce and has a caramelized exterior.
- Serve the bacem tofu hot with steamed rice or as a side dish for your favorite Indonesian meal.
There is a variety of grocery stores here in the Phoenix metro (Arizona) area where you can buy great tofu, especially firm tofu. Here are 3 favorite Asian grocery stores my wife and I like to frequent for this type of tofu.
- Lee Lee International Supermarket – 2025 N. Dobson Road, Chandler, AZ 85224
- Mekong Supermarket – 66 S Dobson Rd, Mesa, AZ 85202
- H Mart – 1919 W Main St, Mesa, AZ 85201
Places to Try Bacem Tofu in Yogyakarta
When you go to Yogyakarta, visit Jadah Tempe Warung Mbah Carik Sandwich in the style of Yogyakarta. Located on Jalan Kailurang (about Km 15) on the right side of the road, before Mirota Batik Jalan Kaliurang. The shop is located at the foot of the mountain (before the shrimp statue) and has been around since 1950. At this stall you can enjoy Tofu Bacem, Jadah bacem (made from glutinous rice and coconut milk), Tempe Bacem and Wajik (made from sticky rice, coconut milk, and sugar).
How to Best get to Yogyakarta via the Island of Bali?
There are a variety of ways to get to Yogyakarta from Bali. Here are three ways you may want to look into.
Going by private car will take you an average of 13-15 hours depending on when you can catch the ferry to the island of Java. The trip is roughly a 700 km journey from Denpasar, Bali to Yogyakarta.
Here are some suggestions to keep in mind when taking a private car to Yogyakarta. You can book a private car from Bali to Yogyakarta through a travel agency or hire a driver from a car rental service. Always negotiate the price and confirm the pickup location and time. Besides packing all your bags, make sure you have a couple bottles of water since it is almost always hot and humid in Indonesia. Being hydrated is so important, especially when on long trips. On the day of your journey, your driver will pick you up from your hotel or preferred location. Make sure to confirm the pickup time and location with your driver beforehand. The journey from Bali to Yogyakarta by private car usually takes up to 12 to 14 hours (or even more) depending on traffic conditions and stops along the way as well as waiting on the ferry. If time is not a major concern, you may want to ask your driver to take you on a scenic route through the island of Java, passing through towns and villages along the way.
If you do not have the luxury of time, then going by airplane, such as with Garuda Airlines, by far may work best for you. It will take you around about 1.5 hours flight time. Add another 1 hour to include transfer time. Yes, it is for sure the most expensive way to get to Yogyakarta but by far the quickest way.
Don’t Forget to Travel Safely!
Now you know where to get delicious bacem tofu, when you visit Yogyakarta. But there is one very important step that people forget when making international travel plans is purchasing travel insurance. We never plan for accidents to happen, but sadly, they happen more than we realize. We’ve been serving travelers for over 25 years and have heard more tragic stories than we would have liked.
Before you travel, make sure you have a travel health insurance plan that will protect you and your loved ones. You will be able to travel with peace of mind knowing your covered if anything unfortunate happens.
We sincerely hope you enjoy your travels to Indonesia and beyond!