WHB #275: A Taste of Semur Betawi

What do you think about tasting semur betawi on St. Patrick's day? Me, very excited. And I hope you're with me because I want to share you some.

(Actually I really want to share this with my housemate Mala too, whose birthday is today, but unfortunately she doesn't eat beef. So, it's just happy birthday I guess.)

Semur betawi is a Batavian beef stew dish. There's quite a few version of semur recipes in our culinary. I got this one from Kompas Female and it is said to be the original semur betawi recipe from RM. Betawi Hj. Amih at Jakarta Timur. This one is salty sweet, but basically taste the same with the other beef stew recipes.

Semur most essential ingredient is sweet soy sauce, a condiment prepared by fermenting soybeans with mold (commonly used is either Aspergillus oryzae or Aspergillus sojae) for around six to twelve months. Later the fermented beans are pressed and strained to take the liquid known as soy sauce. (Read more about the process here.)

As usual, I make a little ingredients improvement and experiment a different style. I will share the other version of semur later, but for now let's see what's in this one..

Batavian Beef Stew
(Semur Betawi, adapted from Kompas Female)

  • 5 large shallots
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • ½ tablespoon of finely chopped ginger
  • 3 candlenuts (fried)
  • ½ teaspoon shrimp paste
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
  • 5 tablespoons palm oil
  • 2 cm galangal (bruised)
  • 2 salam leaves
  • 2 stalks lemon-grass (bruised)
  • 100 g beef (preferably filet mignon or tenderloin)
  • 1 large potato (peeled and cut to your taste)
  • oil for frying
  • 5 green beans (chopped)
  • 1 small carrot (chopped)
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 250 ml water
  • 1 teaspoon white peppercorn (toasted)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (toasted)
  • Fried shallot and garlic for serving

The refined spices looked like this.

Preparation method:
  1. Refine shallot, garlic, ginger, candlenut, shrimp paste and salt using mortar and pestle.
  2. Mix the refined spices with soy sauce, oil, galangal, salam leaf and lime-grass.
  3. Marinate the beef and store it for 1 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, fry the potato until golden brown.
  5. Boil green bean and carrot briefly, stain from water. Saute onion with oil, then add green beans and carrot.
  6. In a pan, stir in beef sauce until aromatic, add the beef and water. Cook until half liquid evaporate.
  7. Ground white peppercorn and cumin.
  8. In a plate, arrange beef and fried potato. Pour in the sauce, sprinkle with white pepper and cumin. Serve with green beans and carrot.
Yield 1 serve.

My Batavian beef stew experiment.

There's a little story behind the name of batavia and betawi. For as far as I know (and you must know that I'm not brilliant in history), batavia is a latin name for the land of Batavians in Roman times. Batavi itself probably derived from batawjō (now betawu), meaning 'good island'. It (batavi) is the name of an ancient Germanic tribe, the ancestor of the Dutch. Later, the term Batavians refers to them as they promoted themselves so during the Renaissance.

Subsequently, they took the name Batavia to their colonies. Includes a city they founded in Indonesia in 1619. The city now called Jakarta, the capital of our Republic, and its inhabitants called the betawi people. (I'm not really sure where the term betawi came from, perhaps derivation from batavi.) Instead of name, this colonization also brought European culinary influence to the creation of semur betawi.

Or at least I thought so.
Oh well, let's leave the business to historians. I'm done typing now.

A Taste of Semur Betawi is written as a Weekly Herb Blogging #275 entry, hosted by Chris from Mele Cotte.


  1. Interesting! Looks yummy. Thanks for participating. The round up should be up later tonight. :)

  2. Thanks to you, Chris. I've read the round up. Well done!