Bebotok with minced veal
Parcels of spicy minced meat wrapped in cabbage leaves; bebotok. Beb uses for this bebotok green, savoy- or white cabbage. I use white cabbage and pointed cabbage. Pointed cabbage is slightly tender. My mother likes that and she comes over for lunch ;-).
I use about a tablespoon of filling for each package. Half a kilo is enough for at least 20 parcels. It takes about 60 minutes to prepare. Then another 20 minutes to steam. It depends on the size of your steamer how fast it goes. I use a rattan steamer. I can steam only 5 at a time but that’s okay. I just love my rattan steamer. It looks so delicious. ;-).
Bebotok of minced veal #193 translated from Beb Vuyk Groot Indonesisch Kookboek from 1973, page 183.
1/2 kg of minced veal
1 green, white or savoy cabbage
1/6 block santen (coconut cream)
2 tablespoons of oil
3 tablespoons of chopped onions
2 chopped cloves of garlic
4 teaspoons of coriander
2 teaspoons of cumin
a pinch of Kaempferia galanga (kencur)
some lemon juice
Rub onions, garlic, coriander, cumin, Kaempferia galanga, salt and pepper together finely and fry in the oil until almost dry. Mix them well with the meat.
Peel a green savoy or white cabbage and cut the thick veins off until it evens out with the rest of the leaf. Cook the leaves in plenty of salted water for 5 to 6 minutes. Drain them and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture on a leaf depending on the size of the leaf. Grind some santen over it. Fold them and secure if necessary with a tooth pick. Steam the bebotok for about 20 minutes.
If I see a recipe by Beb that says ‘add a pinch Kaempferia galanga, I always want to make it immediately. I simply adore Kaempferia galanga or kencur. It gives that particular smell and taste that I know from grandma (and the Asian shop ;-).
I ask my (Muslim) butcher to mince a pound of veal for me. That is no problem at all. I cannot buy minced veal meat at my supermarket. I also see a lovely white cabbage with neat round leaves. It probably works well with Beb’s bebotok. I grind onions and garlic in the cobek and add the spices. What a wonderful combination it is: coriander, cumin and kencur (Kaempferia galanga). I’m not stingy with salt (I add 2 teaspoons) because it must bring a pound of meat to taste. I add at least 2 teaspoons of ground pepper too.
I rub the paste until pretty smooth. Now it’s ready to fry in the pan.The bebotok should not be too wet because all the lovelyness will run out of the parcels. I think that is why Beb says the paste should be fried dry. That’s fine with me because it smells so good ;-). I fry the paste for about 1o minutes on low heat. It should of course not burn so I keep stirring.
Now I add the paste with the minced meat. Be carefull because you add warm spices with raw meat. You cannot keep the meat for a long time. If you want to make the bebotok a day in advance the fried spices must be completely cold before it goes through your raw meat.
Beb does not say when the lemon goes into the dish, but I add it by now. I squeeze a quarter lemon into the minced meat mixture and mix it in well.
You may think it is not enough spices for this amount of minced meat, but it is fine. It is the right proportion. It will taste great.
So now start with the cabbage leaves. The white cabbage is a lot stronger than the pointed cabbage. Nice to give both a try. I cut the thick vein at the bottom off until it evens out with the rest of the leaf as Beb describes.
Pointed cabbage leaves have a solid vein in the middle. I cut it off otherwise it will be too difficult to fold.
I cook the cabbage leaves 5 minutes and the cabbage leaves for 3 minutes. I use my wok (wok), but ofcourse you can use any pan.
I put a spoon full of minced meat in the middle of the leaf, sprinkle some santen over it and fold the bebotok the same way every time. They will all look the same way.
I fold the sheet tightly and close it with a tooth pick. I also use kitchen string for other parcels just to experiment and it looks nice too.
The cabbage is slightly larger and more tender. I have to fold it differently than the white cabbage.
Now they are ready to be steamed. I think my steamer basket looks great. You can make a pile out of these baskets so you can steam them all at once. I only have two so it takes a while longer.
I steam my bebotok for 20 minutes. Then they are done and ready to eat. The cabbage leaves stay firm and keep the shape well.
I think this bebotok is very tasty. It is a crunchy snack with fragrant meat inside. The santen makes it creamy and sweet. I hag great fun making these. You can make a lot of extra and reheat the next day in the steamer for 3 minutes. It could be an appetizer or snack too ;-). Selamat makan.
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.