Indonesian bay leaves (salam leaves) are aromatic leaves used in Indonesian cooking similar in use to the Mediterranean variety bay leaf.
Indonesian bay leaf (salam leaf, Indonesian laurel, Syzygium polyanthum, Myrtaceae) is not generally found outside of Indonesia. The dried and/or fresh leaves are commonly used in the cuisines of Sumatra, Java, Madura, and Bali. The aromatic leaves are not used raw, but are added during cooking – usually whole – to various curry-like dishes, stews and some sauces.
Indonesian cooking does not typically use the Western bay leaf so, if you have an Indonesian cookbook that calls for bay leaves, salam leaves are what you are looking for. If you are interested in trying your hand at Indonesian cooking, this ingredient is well worth seeking out. It adds an subtle yet unmistakable sweet and savoury flavour.
Substitute for Salam Leaves
- Bay leaves are not a good substitute so try curry leaves which can be found in Indian grocery stores.
- Rather than using bay leaf as a substitute if salam leaf is unavailable, omit the herb altogether.