The famous Indonesian snack siomay is enjoyed all across the country as it’s served both in restaurants and by small food vendors at the side of the road. While its Chinese and other Asian cousins normally use pork as a filling, in Indonesia the main ingredient is normally fish. But that’s not all there is to know about the little steamed delights—here are four things you might have missed about siomay.
Although it’s a famous Indonesian meal, siomay is actually a variation of the Chinese dish shumai. Originating from Hohhot in Inner Mongolia, the Chinese dumpling can be steamed or fried and is normally served as part of a dim sum meal. While in Japan, you can try another variation named shaomai, and in both the Philippines and Vietnam you can eat other variations all with different fillings and cooking methods.
Siomay is enjoyed all across Java in both the larger cities and the smaller towns, but the most famous place to enjoy it is Bandung. So many people offer siomay in the city that many now use the name Siomay Bandung when selling their versions in the neighbouring areas and bigger cities. The taste is so famous that the name Bandung has become synonymous with only the best siomay in the country.
While Bandung is the best place to try some traditional siomay, it is also the original site of another bite-sized variation named batagor. An abbreviation of bakso tahu goreng, the main difference is that while siomay is steamed, batagor is fried. Both are normally served in sites across Bandung to passers-by and people on the way to work.
As mentioned, China is the original inspiration for the famous Indonesian snack, but there isn’t just one Chinese version—there are seven. Each province has a different interpretation with the original Hohot version using chopped or minced mutton, scallions, and ginger. Other provinces use things like pork and mushrooms, with most famous being the Cantonese version due to it being served mostly in the West.