What’s For Dinner? Oncom
The first time I saw the bright orange, strange-looking thing, I had no idea what to think. Was it some kind of cheese? Was it even food? “Oncom,” my Indonesian tutor Niar said. Pronounced on-chom, this isn’t cheese. Oncom is an Indonesian staple closely related to the soy bean product tempeh. Oncom is made from all of the leftovers from tempeh and tofu and then it’s fermented. Since it is made from byproducts, it’s very cheap. A large slice of oncom at my market costs about 20 cents, if not less. Oncom is meaty and hearty and I think this will be the next big thing in soy bean products if it ever reaches the States.
I’d been dropping lots of clues to Niar during our Indonesian tutoring sessions and so one Saturday afternoon she came to my apartment and our tutoring lesson became a fun cooking and cultural class. Oddly enough, this was the first time I had seen oncom. The next time I went to the market I immediately spotted it and said, “oncom,” out loud. I delighted my vegetable lady who was surprised that I knew what it was.
Niar showed me how to make a light tasty batter and then we fried the oncom. It’s best eaten hot and it really is filling. See the recipe at the end of the post.