Kecap manis or sweet soy sauce is a staple in South-East Asian cooking. It is the backbone of dishes like nasi goreng or char kuay teow. This is a ubiquitous sauce, also known as “ABC sauce” or “Bangso sauce” thanks to the name of some popular brands.
The problem with kecap manis is simply that it contains a huge amount of sugar, which is why I usually make my own. It’s really simple and inexpensive…when I needed to make a fresh batch of kecap manis today I found all the ingredients in my pantry – there was no need to go out and buy more. Of course I realize that I have a really well stocked pantry and herb garden at the moment! There was a little fun in playing around with different aromatics. Today’s batch was really lovely, I think because of the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf I put in. Of course these are optional extras but I think the sauce was a little more fragrant than the basic one I usually do.
I’ve been a bit disorganized this week. It has been a busy season, and it was not helped by having a last minute talk to prepare for (with 3 days’ notice!). So I had plans to make char siew noodles but because I was so busy pushing out the PowerPoint slides, I forgot to marinate the pork and only got to it at 1 am! And somewhere in the murk of sleepiness I remembered also that I had to make the kecap manis from scratch as it is one of the ingredients for the noodle sauce. Anyway this morning I was much fresher and making the sauce was easy and relaxing.
So here’s the kecap manis recipe. It can probably be kept in the fridge for a few weeks. The recipe makes about 250 ml or 1 cup of sauce. After today’s lunch of char siew noodles (yes, kecap manis is needed for the noodle sauce), I will probably try to use the sauce up in recipes like ayam manis (chicken with sweet soy sauce) and nasi goreng.
Sugar-Free Kecap Manis
- 3/4 cup light soy sauce
- 1/4 cup dark soy sauce
- 1 cup golden monkfruit sweetener or Swerve brown sugar substitute
- 1 tbsp blackstrap molasses (optional)
- 1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
- 2 cloves
- 2 star anise
- 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 stalk of lemongrass, trimmed and bruised (optional)
- 1/2 tsp coriander seeds (optional)
- 1 kaffir lime leaf, shredded (optional)
- Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir well.
- Simmer for 20 – 25 minutes on low heat. Turn off the heat and cool the sauce.
- Drain the sauce through a sieve into a clean sterile container. If not using immediately, refrigerate.