Tahu Gejrot [ Spicy Toffu ]

Tahu Gejrot [ Spicy Toffu ]

Tahu Gejrot [ Spicy Toffu ]

            Tahu Gejrot is one of famous traditional snack of Indonesia. Gejrot itself means “grind”. Grind your food doesn’t really sounds nice, isn’t?! but we call it so because the way we prepare it is we grind the spices with an indonesian mortar pestle (cobek/ulekan). If you got your tahu gejrot from the local seller, you will se they do this with full-force, almost looks like they are trying to kill the spices. 

 Tahu Gejrot consists of many nice things, like fluffy puffy tofu (tahu pong/sumedang). It’s a sort of fried tofu. The special thing about this tofu is comes from the fact that its empty in the middle, not firm like any normal tofu. Apparently the hardest thing about making this dish is finding the right tofu. The tofu  comes from another region in west java called Sumedang. The tahu gejrot seller which whom I was talking to said he prefers to skip a day of selling tahu gejrot if he cant find the right tofu. Another nice thing we can find in a bowl of tahu gejrot is the sauce. It has a unique taste with the perfect combination of sour, sweet and spicy with a hint of fishy taste. It is made of tamarind, palm sugar (gula jawa) and water that is mixed with a spice paste. The spice paste is made from small green chillies, garlic and shallots with a bit of dried shrimp, all ground together into a paste.

Tahu gejrot originates from a harbor city called Cirebon, a region in west Java. This particular area is famous for their small-shrimp production, which is used to make stuff like shrimp paste (terasi). The real tahu gejrot uses dried small shrimp as well to give the nice fishy taste in its sauce. You can find tahu gejrot easily in Cirebon (obviously), but unfortunately it is hard to find in big cities like Jakarta. Luckily, I live in a suburban area where tahu gejrot sellers still roam around freely. Suburban areas are actually a paradise, well not Malibu-like paradise, but it’s a paradise for traditional-food-junky like myself.  All kinds of street food sellers pass in front of my house everyday, a total luxury that I cant find where I live now.

Every time I buy food from a street vendor, I always ask a question or two about the food or about how did they end up become a food street vendor. I am curious how does this food business works in Indonesia. Especially considering the price of a bowl of tahu gejrot is only about half dollar. Yep, you read it right, half dollar, fifty cents, or its around 5000 rupiahs. Somehow that price covers all the ingredients in a bowl and still give some profit for the vendor. This nice tahu gejrot seller says he started his business when he moved to Jakarta many years ago. He was working for a friend who sold the fluffy tofu. He got some percentage from the tofu he managed to sell. After a few years he finally got his own cart and he decided to start his own business selling tahu gejrot. He himself comes from Cirebon, so as a Cirebonese he definitely knows how to make a yummy tahu gejrot. It was pretty dang good!


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