Among the many Indonesian culinary delights, Mee Goreng, a fried noodle dish commonly sold at warungs (street stalls), is undoubtedly one of the most loved.
In Indonesia, the massive instant noodle market spans a wide range of flavors and styles from Kari Ayam (chicken curry) to Ayam Bawang (chicken with onion).
If you’re a first-timer, you can’t go wrong with the classic, Indomie Mi Goreng. Mirroring the street food classic, the flavor formula for the instant noodle version was invented by a longtime Indomie employee Nunuk Nuraini, who created a handful of other fan-favorite varieties.
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This is not a soupy noodle. You boil the noodles, drain them, then dump in the seasonings and mix everything together. Here’s where it gets interesting.
Unlike other instant noodles we’ve tried with one or two seasoning packs, Indomie Mi Goreng features five individual packets of seasoning, reflecting Indonesian flavors. You get crunchy bits of fried onions. There’s sambal oelek, the chili sauce staple found on kitchen tables in Southeast Asia, like a less sweet sriracha.
Kecap manis is perhaps the defining Indonesian flavor—a sweet and thick soy sauce that enrobes the noodles. There’s also seasoning oil (minyak bumbu) that’s essentially solidified fat at room temperature; this melts in the warm noodles. The last packet is a mysterious white powder that tastes undefined and salty, par for the course for instant noodles.
The most popular add-on to this dish is a fried egg. Mixing the yolk into the noodles makes it even richer and slick on the palate. (You can also poach an egg as you cook the noodles in boiling water, but fried eggs are more texturally interesting.) From there, you might consider adding chopped Chinese sausage or crunchy diced vegetables (choy sum, tomato, fried shallots).
To me, this is the perfect 10 p.m. snack—you’re not ingesting a big bowl of broth and noodles. It reminds me of stir-fried noodles at a night market, one you can eat off a plate (especially with a fried egg). The portion is not overwhelming, and it’s ultra rich, sweet and savory, a touch spicy, with interesting bits of crunchy stuff. The fact that each pack costs less than $1 makes it one of the more satisfying instant noodles on the market.
Photo credit: Bima Hartono, Valerie Li Stack