When we were in Semarang, we visited one of the famous markets there, Pasar Gang Baru. It is located in the middle of Chinatown and open in the morning. Here you can find any meat products, fruits, vegetables, basically almost any kinds of ingredients that you will need to cook Chinese Indonesian food. Since, the majority of the customers are Chinese Indonesian, you can find a lot pork product.
Even if you don’t buy anything, the market is fun to explore and you can find myriad of local produce in any colors and shapes.
What was unusual for me to see was a seller of sea grapes – called latoh. In Indonesia, many people miscall sea grape as seaweed. The seller said you could eat it raw with freshly grated coconut and chili. This particular dish is popular in the northern coast of Java and is called urap latoh. It’s similar to Balinese rujak bulung.
We found a vendor that sells various Indonesian bread and cake like kue moho, cucur, and risoles. Kue cucur is a type of cake made from rice flour. It is popular not only in Indonesia, but also other countries like Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Brunei. Of course, each country has slightly different recipes, but the shape and ingredients are more or less the same.
A bit further, we also found another kue moho seller and she is very sweet. We bought a lot of from the auntie. My mom said that kue moho reminded her of her childhood. It is similar to bakpau but with rougher texture (in Indonesia we call it “nyereti”). This bread is also used as an offering in the prayer altar by the Buddhists. It is one of the examples of foods brought by Chinese immigrants. The original name in Hokkien dialect is morhor. Unlike the normal kue moho which is empty, the auntie also has kue moho filled with mung bean. The texture was so soft and fluffy.
There was also a vendor selling yellow tofu as well as brown tofu (not pictured). She said the brown tofu is actually spiced and used for making bakmoy – pork and prawn cake soup. There were also several stalls selling ready-made food. You can just buy it to be reheated later at home and eaten with white rice.
Pictured below is laksa. Laksa is peranakan noodle soup while perkedel is potato fritters. It’s possibly from the Dutch frikandel, only in the past people could not afford meat and substituted it with potato instead.
We bought from a lady that sells pepesan a parcel of pepesan telur ikan. Pepesan is ingredients wrapped in banana leaves then grilled with charcoal. This one was made from fish egg and lots of chilies. It was delicious.
We spotted a lady selling jajan pasar/ lenjongan. This was special because it has ketan biru a.k.a. blue glutinuous rice. No, the color is not superficial – it is from bunga teleng or butterfly pea flowers.
My mom bought a bundle of blady grass (in Indonesian we call it alang – alang). According to Chinese Indonesian, blady grass can cure sore throat or just soothe throat in the hot summer. So, my mom was planning to boil it at home with some rock sugar.
We also bought from a very nice uncle a lot of meatballs. I think he sold the most complete selections of meatballs in the market, around 20 or so. He also sells homemade tauco (fermented bean paste for cooking). We chatted for quite a while and he even gave us his name card and some food recommendations. “Behind the market there is a very good siomay vendor called Siomay Cap Kauw King” he said. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to go there. What I enjoy from talking to the locals is that they always know how to give you good recommendations.
At the end of the market there was a young guy selling what he called “kuotie”, although it was actually not kuotie. Kuotie is more like fried gyoza. This one was more like a chai kueh, a steamed pastry with sweet radish filling. Nevertheless, it was good. I wish I bought more!
Overall, it was a very fun experience to visit Pasar Gang Baru. I always love traditional market. Although many people, especially the youngsters, think it’s dirty, I enjoy the experience. I like it when I get to see new food ingredients that I never know before, or even just chatting with the vendors about everyday life, politics, or random stuffs. A traditional market is where you see real life: no fancy stuffs, straightforward, people trying to make a living.
Pasar Gang Baru
Jl. Gang Baru
Opening hours: 05.00-12.00 everyday