When it comes to Indonesian street food, two dishes that might confuse foreigners are batagor and siomay. Both dishes are usually served with peanut sauce, but they have different ingredients and origin stories.
What is Batagor?
Batagor is short for “baso tahu goreng” (fried tofu dumplings) from Bandung, a city in West Java. It consists of a mixture of ground fish (usually mackerel), tapioca starch, garlic, and salt, wrapped in a thin layer of tofu skin and deep-fried until crispy. Batagor is often served with a peanut sauce made from roasted peanuts, sweet soy sauce (kecap manis), garlic, chili, and tamarind juice.
Some batagor sellers also offer complementary side dishes such as boiled potatoes, boiled eggs, and steamed rice cake (ketupat). Batagor can be found in street vendors, food courts, and restaurants across Indonesia, but it is most famous in Bandung, where many batagor stalls are concentrated in the city center.
What is Siomay?
Siomay, on the other hand, is a Chinese-inspired dish that has been adapted to Indonesian taste. It consists of steamed or boiled dumplings made from fish, shrimp, and/or chicken, mixed with tapioca starch, garlic, salt, and sometimes egg white, wrapped in a thin layer of wheat flour skin.
Siomay is usually served with a peanut sauce similar to batagor, but it may also be accompanied by sweet soy sauce, lime juice, and/or chili sauce. Some siomay sellers also add boiled potatoes, boiled eggs, and steamed cabbage to the dish.
Siomay is more widely available than batagor, as it can be found not only in Indonesia but also in other Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. In Indonesia, siomay is often sold by street vendors who carry a portable steamer and serve the hot dumplings in small baskets or plastic bags.
Although batagor and siomay share some similarities, such as the peanut sauce and the dumpling shape, they are distinct dishes with different ingredients and origins. Batagor is a West Javanese specialty made from fish and tofu skin, while siomay is a Chinese-Indonesian fusion made from fish, shrimp, chicken, and wheat flour skin. Both dishes are delicious and affordable, and they are worth trying if you visit Indonesia or any other Southeast Asian countries.