Sweet soy sauce (Indonesian: kecap manis) is a sweetened aromatic soy sauce, originating from Indonesia, which has a dark colour, a thick syrupy consistency and a unique, pronounced, sweet and somewhat molasses-like flavour due to the generous addition of palm sugar.
Kecap manis is widely used with satay. It is similar to, though finer in flavour than, Chinese sweet bean sauce (tianmianjiang). It is by far the most popular type of soy sauce in Indonesian cuisine.
Uses of Kecap Manis (Sweet Soy Sauce)
Kecap manis is an essential sauce in the Indonesian pantry.
- It is used to add a pleasantly mild sweet and umami flavour in most popular Indonesian dishes; including nasi goreng, mie goreng, kwetiau goreng, ayam kecap (chicken), babi kecap (pork), semur beef stew, and ketoprak.
- It is also a popular marinade for grilled dishes, such as satay, ayam bakar (grilled chicken) and ikan bakar (grilled fish).
- Sweet soy sauce is also a popular dipping sauce, mixed with chopped shallot and bird’s eye chilli and served as dipping sauce to accompany tahu goreng (fried tofu).
- Steamed rice topped with sunny side fried egg and drizzled with sweet soy sauce is a simple yet popular meal among Indonesian children.
- In Eastern Indonesia, sweet soy sauce is used as the ingredient of colo-colo dipping sauce, although traditionally this Maluku sauce uses black coloured rendered coconut oil residue.
Compared to mildly salty regular soy sauce, sweet soy sauce has a slightly thicker consistency, and tastes much sweeter. This condiment is made from a fermented paste of boiled black soybeans, roasted grain, salt, water and Aspergillus wentii moulds, to which palm sugar is added. The strong sweet taste is contributed by a generous amount of palm sugar — the sauce may contain up to 50 percent gula merah or gula jawa (palm sugar jaggery). Indonesian sweet soy sauce is often enriched with spices, including star anise, cinnamon, black pepper, coriander and clove.
Sweet soy sauce is widely available in Indonesian marketplaces, warungs, minimarkets, supermarkets, toko and Asian grocery stores worldwide. However, it is quite hard to find in most parts of Europe (except for the Netherlands and UK) and also quite scarce in the Americas.
- Sweet soy sauce can be made from regular soy sauce. Regular soy sauce mixed with brown sugar, added with a trace of molasses, can serve as a substitute for sweet soy sauce.