When it comes to strange food, Indonesia is hard to beat. Even though Linda Mie is Indonesian herself, she can’t help thinking some of these dishes look like they belong on Fear Factor
Every traveler goes to Indonesia shouldn’t miss the chance to taste unique Indonesian dishes. Instead of adopting the standard Southeast Asia Chinese influence, most of Indonesian dishes tend to have their own style. This is characterized by some bizarre ingredients which are used in some Indonesian dishes. (Bizarre if you’re a Westerner, anyway). Although it’s hard to find these kinds of dishes if you are just staying in Jakarta, if you have the chance to explore elsewhere in Indonesia you may well encounter them.
Coto Makassar Close Up © Kelapa
The first bizarre dish is Coto Makassar. Although this dish is a local specialty of Sulawesi, this dish is easy to find in many big Java cities. It’s a dark yellow soup made from cow broth. Although its appearance seems normal, Coto Makassar contains a lot of cow body parts which are very high in cholesterol. Coto Makassar uses cow’s liver, lungs, bowel, brain and intestine! I only eat this delicious dish occasionally since the high cholesterol contamination has caused the death of several people who eat this dish in excess.
Mmm, bat meat. Pic © Secobarbital
The second Indonesia bizarre dish that I have eaten is dog and bat’s meat. Yes, you read that right! They butcher dogs and bats to be used in a local specialty dish. The meat is commonly fried and served in sweet and sour sauce. This dish is originated from Manado, the capital city of North Sulawesi. During my visit to Manado, my colleague took me to eat this dish. I did not know that they used dog and bat’s meat since it appeared perfectly normal. The taste was savory but the meat was kind of hard to chew. I was so shocked after my colleague told me that he has just served me dog and bat’s meat. While I might not mind so much about bat but I am a dog lover. I felt somewhat annoyed with my colleague for not telling me that I had eaten a dog for my dinner. If you happen to visit Manado for scuba diving or snorkeling, be sure to try this dish if you don’t mind eating dog and bat.
I live in Surabaya, a coastal city in East Java. East Java is closer to the eastern archipelago of Indonesia. The third Indonesia bizarre dish in to my opinion is Lon Tong Ku Pang which is my city’s specialty. Although the name resembles Chinese food, Lon Tong Ku Pang cannot be found anywhere else save Indonesia. This dish uses Ku Pang and Lon Tong as their main ingredients. While Lon Tong (rice roll wrapped and steamed in banana leaves) is widely used for many Indonesian dishes, Ku Pang can only be found in coastal cities. Ku Pang is a small shellfish which lives in water. What makes this dish bizarre is the process of catching Ku Pang itself. Ku Pang can only be baited by feeding them human faeces. Yuck! In fact the popular Ku Pang fishing spot is a small river which is also used by a lot of poor people to throw away their faeces. That’s why you are required to eat Lon Tong Ku Pang along with drinking fresh green coconut juice. The green coconut can kill the bacteria thus keeping you healthy after consuming the Ku Pang. I never have the guts to try Lon Tong Ku Pang after knowing this fact. In my opinion this is a dish worthy for Fear Factor if the participants are required to see the catching process themselves.