How to cook bakwan sayur (Indonesian vegetable fritters) at home, choosing the vegetable mix, and tips to get crispy bakwan.
Bakwan sayur is Indonesian deep fried vegetable fritters. Found nation wide, mostly sold by street food vendors, the most popular version uses a mix of cabbage, carrot, and mung bean sprouts. Some regions in Indonesia call this as bala-bala, though it is more widely known as bakwan sayur.
If you are Indonesian living overseas, I am sure there are times that you crave some freshly fried bakwan sayur. Now with this recipe, you can cook some to cure that homesickness. ♥
Vegetables mix for bakwan sayur
Although cabbage, carrot, and mung bean sprouts are the most common mix, you can use your own mixture.
If you are familiar with Japanese yasai tempura (vegetables tempura), then all the vegetables that you can use for yasai tempura can be used in bakwan sayur.
For this particular recipe, I keep it as simple as possible and use a mixture of shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, and thinly sliced scallions. But reallly, there is no fixed rules, so feel free to improvise.
Batter for bakwan/Indonesian fritters
My bakwan batter uses very simple ingredients: all-purpose flour, rice flour, salt, sugar, ground white/black pepper, grated garlic, egg, and ice cold water.
Rice flour is the secret ingredient to get crispy fritters. You can substitute rice flour with tapioca starch to get the same effect.
As you increase the amount of rice flour/tapioca starch, the crispier the fritters get but it will be less chewy. Everyone has a different preference to the crispiness and chewiness level of their fritters, so feel free to experiment.
For beginners, stick with 150 gram all-purpose flour and 50 gram rice flour ratio. If you decide that you want a crispier batch next time, you can use 100 gram all-purpose flour and 100 gram rice flour.
You cannot avoid deep frying
If you want to whip up authentic bakwan, there is no avoiding deep frying. To get crispy bakwan, my trick is to make sure the oil is hot, and the bakwan batter is super cold.
If you have a thermometer, you want the oil to reach 170 Celsius (340 Fahrenheit). If you don’t have a thermometer, the oil should look shimmering, and a drop of batter should sink slightly in the hot oil and immediately float up the surface.
To make sure the batter is cold, use ice cold water. Usually, I even put the batter back in the fridge while my pot of oil is heating up.
Once out from the hot oil, drain the bakwan over a wire rack to remove excess oil. Please don’t drain excess oil with paper towels as they will make the fritters soggy. Serve the fritters immediately, as is, or with your favorite chili sauce.
Bakwan Sayur - Vegetables Fritter
- 250 gram shredded blanched cauliflower (Indonesian: bunga kol), or shredded cabbage (Indonesian: kol)
- 150 gram shredded carrot (Indonesian: wortel)
- 2 scallions (Indonesian: daun bawang), thinly sliced
- 150 gram all-purpose flour (Indonesian: tepung terigu)
- 50 gram rice flour (Indonesian: tepung beras)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- 250 ml ice cold water
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
- 1 egg
- oil for deep frying
- Commonly served with
- Thai chilies
- tomato ketchup
- chili sauce/sambal of your choice
- In a mixing bowl, combine all purpose flour, rice flour, salt, sugar, and ground pepper. Add water and mix well, make sure there are no lumps.
- Add grated garlic and egg into the batter. Mix well.
- Add shredded blanched cauliflower/cabbage, shredded carrot, and sliced scallions into the batter and mix well.
- Put the bakwan batter in the fridge while we heat up the oil to keep the batter as cold as possible.
- Pour enough oil in a pot for deep frying. Once a bit of batter dropped into the oil bubbles immediately, the oil is ready. If you have a thermometer, wait until the oil reaches 170 Celsius (340 Fahrenheit).
- Remove bakwan batter from the fridge. Use a small laddle (or ice cream scoop) and drop a laddleful of vegetables mixture into the hot oil. Deep fry until the fritter is crispy and turns golden brown on both sides, remove and drain on a wire rack/paper towel. Repeat until all batter is used up.
- Serve immediately with some Thai chilies, or a combination of tomato sauce and chili sauce.