The Epicurious Wanderers!

Babi Pongteh and Sambal Ikan Bilis

let me be straight up on this recipe, it’s from a MasterChef contestant, so a big thank you to Alvin Quah for this one. It’s a cracking Indonesian dish and believe or not it’s really quite simple. So read on and enjoy this amazing flavour bomb.


Babi Pongteh
1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
2 medium brown onions, peeled and roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
3 tbsp fermented soybeans
1 tbsp neutral flavoured oil
400g pork belly, cut into 3-4cm pieces
2 medium washed potatoes, cut into 4-5cm chunks
2 tbsp kecap manis, plus extra to taste

Sambal Ikan Bilis
2 tbsp neutral flavoured oil
1 cup ikan bilis
6 long red chillies
2 bird’s eye chillies
1 tbsp belacan, toasted
juice 1 lime, plus extra to balance
1 tsp caster sugar, plus extra to balance

To taste:
salt and sugar
To garnish:
chopped chives

To serve: cooked rice, jasmine or basmati work well


For the Babi Pongteh, soak mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes, reserving the liquid. Meanwhile, place onions, garlic and soybeans into a food processor and process to a paste.

Heat oil in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the paste and fry until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add pork and stir fry for 5 minutes, making sure pork is well coated in the paste. Add potatoes and softened mushrooms and stir fry until well coated in the paste. Add just enough reserved liquid from the mushrooms to cover the pork and bring to boil. Stir in kecap manis then reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid. Simmer until pork is tender, about 50 minutes. Stir through extra kecap manis and salt and sugar to taste.

For the Sambal Ikan Bilis, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add ikan bilis and fry until golden and crispy. Remove from the pan and set aside. Process chillies and belacan in a food processor to a rough paste. Add remaining oil to the same frypan. Add the chilli paste and fry for 2 minutes. Add ikan bilis and cook for another 2 minutes. Balance with lime juice and sugar and cook for another 1 minute, adding a little more of each if required.

To serve, place babi pongteh in a large bowl. Garnish with chopped chives. Serve with rice and sambal ikan bilis in a small bowl on the side.

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