181 Rempah (Indonesian meat balls)

181-rempahMeat balls Indonesian style: rempah. The coconut flour (grated coconut) and cumin (jinten) give the balls their special flavor and texture. Very tasty, especially if you keep them bite-sized: delicious.

Enough for 2 people, ready in 30 minutes.

Rempah, from Beb Vuyk Groot Indonesisch Kookboek, page 175.


100 grams of minced beef
100 grams of coconut flour (grated coconut)
1 small egg
some extra coconut flour to crumb


2 tablespoons of chopped onions
1 chopped garlic clove
2 teaspoons of coriander
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 tablespoon asemwater (tamarind) made of 1 tablespoon of water and a piece of asem the size of half a walnut
1 stalk of lemon grass
1 salam leaf

Mix the minced meat with the egg, coconut flour, onions, garlic, coriander, cumin and asem water. Dry the lemon grass and the salam and grind them into powder. Strain them and mix them with the meat. Form small balls the size of a walnut and fry brown in the oil.


Beb’s recipes are simple most of the time, but this one she overcomplicates, I think. The salam leaves and lemon grass (sereh) must be dried according to the recipe and crushed into powder. The salam is -when dry- (you can buy it that way) easy to make into powder.181-rempah-serehBut the lemongrass is a problem. It’s a thick grass root, almost like bamboo. I leave it out and buy lemongrass powder instead. Frankly I do not understand why Beb wants to make her own powder for this recipe. She doesn’t prescribes it in other recipes.
181-rempah-gehaktmixThe spices are deliciously fragrant. The cumin and coriander give the balls that special ‘rempah’ taste. The coconut works just like breadcrumbs that we normally use for making meatballs; it keeps everything together.

The ingredients list states extra coconut flour for breading, but the breading part is not reflected in the preparation. I do not use extra coconut flour. I fry my rempah just gently in oil until they are done. I’ve made them quite small so after a minute or 15 of simmering they are ready to eat: delicious.

Beb Vuyk, best known for her Groot Indonesisch Kookboek (Great Indonesian Cook Book), was much more than a great cook. She belongs to the most important Dutch-Indonesian (Indo) writers and journalists of her time. Check this out.

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