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Several Indonesian dishes that I've been thinking about making call for Kecap Manis, a sweat somewhat viscous soy sauce. I've seen several potential substitutes online involving normal soy sauce, but I'm not convinced that they would actually make a decent tasting substitute considering how much of the dishes flavor comes from the Kecap Manis. What other sauces would you consider substituting that might give the dish the same Indonesian flavor?

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    Single-ingredient substitutes, or making your own out of soy sauce and other things?
    – Cascabel
    Oct 8 '16 at 16:49
  • You could also buy it online or look at an asian market.
    – Batman
    Oct 8 '16 at 18:49
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    @Jefromi I was thinking of a single ingredient or something I could buy, but I suppose I could make a batch too if you have any suggestions; I thought about maybe experimenting with molasses a bit, but the recipes I found online weren't all that great.
    – Sam Whited
    Oct 8 '16 at 20:29
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    The old "how is the dish supposed to know it should taste indonesian if you just use a chinese soy sauce and american sugar in it" dilemma ;) Dec 9 '16 at 16:52
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    @rackandboneman : you could add a pinch or two of ground galangal (or ginger), garlic powder, ground anise, and cayenne. And you'd want to use a chinese 'superior dark' soy sauce (although maybe mix it with some molasses & water).
    – Joe
    Dec 10 '16 at 19:11
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You could try using a different types of sugar with your soy sauce, perhaps palm sugar. This has that different flavor that your probably looking for. This is also the type of sugar that is commonly used when cooking in Southeast Asian foods, such as Indonesian food.

Also the type of soy sauce you are using in the first place, You might want to try a Thai or Filipino style soy sauce, different flavor components. These are probably closer to the Indonesian taste, than say Japanese soy sauces. I find them sweeter and not as salty.

Just as an aside, are you finding it difficult to find this sauce? Or do you just want to try making your own?

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  • Thanks! I hadn't looked at palm sugar before, next time I need some I'll definitely try this. Yes, I've had trouble finding the sauce here. There are a few places where I can get it, but they're not close.
    – Sam Whited
    Dec 9 '16 at 15:51
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Kecap Manis is not simply sugar & soy sauce, as there are spices, too. (typically galangal (related to ginger) is one of them, which I've only found in the US in larger asian/international markets).

The Dutch spelling of Kecap Manis is Ketjap Manis and you can regularly find it available online (Through Amazon, you can get Bango, Conimex, ABC and Jans).

You can also find plenty of recipes for it (often intended for Indonesian or Dutch expats in America):

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  • kecap manis definitely does NOT contain spices. The premium brand is Bango (Unilever), whose ingredients list is 'palm sugar, black soybeans, water, salt'. The lower quality ABC (Heinz) brand is 'sugar, soybeans, wheat, water, salt, caramel colour 3 & 4, Sodium Benzoate, vegetable stabilizer, acidity regulator'. Palm sugar should be the brown Indonesian kind, not the yellow Thai or Indian variety.
    – thelawnet
    Oct 28 '20 at 20:00

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