I came across Kecap Manis Cap Nonya while staying at a small hotel just outside of my wife's hometown of Kediri. We were there because her brothers and their families had come from Jakarta and Bandung to celebrate my father-in-law's 80th birthday. Needing a place to sleep, we all headed up the hill towards Pohsarang, a place of pilgrimage for Catholics in Java. On weekends buses from across Java fill the narrow roads and the hotel fills up, but it is quiet during the middle of the week. In fact, there were no other guests the two nights we stayed there.
In the morning the hotel cooked up some delicious tahu goreng with sambal petis. This is a simple dish that relies on good ingredients. Cap Nonya provided a nice smoky sweetness to balance the funk of the petis (a fermented shrimp paste used in a number of East Javanese dishes).
Tahu Goreng Sambal Petis
Five blocks of fresh tofu (sold in plastic bags with water in Asian markets)
Oil for deep frying the tofu
1 TBS petis, or more, to taste (don't substitute Vietnamese mam ruoc--which is more pungent)
1 clove of garlic, crushed to a paste in a mortar
chilies, stemmed, seeded, to taste, I recommend starting with one or two, ground to a paste with the garlic in the mortar
1 to 2 TBS kecap manis
2 TBS water
1 TBS natural, crunchy peanut butter (optional--make with and without to give your guests a choice)
Quarter the blocks of tofu into cubes or triangles. Fry in hot oil until crisp and golden.
Mix all of the sambal ingredients in a mortar. Serve with the warm tofu.
Vegetarians can omit the petis and substitute the juice of half a lime. You might also experiment by substituting a teaspoon or so of fermented tofu.