International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Kecap Manis

Grilled fish with sweet soy sauce

(Indonesian sweet soy sauce)

Average: 4.1 (13 votes)

Kecap manis (pronounced like "ketchup") is a ubiquitous ingredient in Indonesian cooking. If you are unable to find it at your local Asian market, this recipe is an approximation.

This soy-based sauce is the origin of the word "ketchup," even though the original Indonesian version contains no tomatoes.

Makes about 2 cups


  • Brown sugar -- 1 cup
  • Soy sauce -- 1 cup
  • Water -- 1/2 cup
  • Galangal root, sliced in discs -- 1 or 2 slices
  • Star anise -- 1 piece


  1. Put the sugar in a small saucepan and place it over a medium-high flame. Stir until the sugar begins to clump together and then melt. Continue stirring until the sugar is completely melted, but do not allow it to burn. Remove from heat — the sugar will continue to cook for a while — and allow it to cool slightly.
  2. Stir in rest of the ingredients. CAUTION! The sugar is still hot, and the liquid may splatter.
  3. Return the saucepan to medium heat, bring it to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar and reduce the liquid to a syrupy consistency.
  4. Strain, cool and store refrigerated.

Kecap Manis Variations

  • Use palm sugar instead of brown sugar if you can find it.
  • Add 1 or 2 teaspoons of molasses for a richer flavor.


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