Just as Indonesia has numerous versions of sate (satay), so too does it have countless variations of soto, a soup that can be found throughout the archipelago. In fact, the cookbook that this recipe comes from--668 Indonesian Recipes from 33 Provinces (668 Resep Masakan Khas Nusantara dari 33 Provinsi)--features 23 recipes for soto and only 11 for sate. Soto is a perfect dish for rumah makans because the bowls can be assembled per order with the ingredients the customer requests and then filled with the hot broth.
I am particularly fond of Soto Ayam Ambengan (which may lay claim to being the most popular soto in Indonesia), but like other versions as well. As with Vietnamese pho, the key to any good soto is the broth. Although you could make a quick version using canned chicken broth, it will be a far cry from a soto made with homemade chicken stock.
Madura, an island off Surabaya that is now connected to Java by an impressive bridge, is included in the province of East Java. Javanese generally consider the Madurese to be coarse folk easily angered. Then again, many Javanese describe almost all non-Javanese this way. With a slightly drier climate and less fertile soil than Java has, Madura has developed a cuisine with some differences from Java. Bull racing (kerapan sapi) draws adventurous tourists to the island, and the bulls also feature prominently in traditional dishes, most famously in rujak cingur and soto daging. This soto ayam Madura may have evolved from the popularity of chicken soto in nearby Java.
As I mentioned, the recipe is adapted from 668 Resep Masakan Khas Nusantara dari 33 Provinis by Yulia T and Astuti Utomo; Agromedia Pustaka; 2008.
Soto Ayam Madura
1 small chicken, preferably free range, about 3 pounds
1 TBS salt
3 quarts filtered water
12 shallots (smallish ones, shallots in Indonesia tend to be the size of large garlic cloves)
9 cloves of garlic
2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh laos (galingal) peeled and coarsely chopped
7 kemiri (candlenuts) unsalted macadamia nuts may be substituted
1 1/2 tsp sugar
2 cups bean sprouts, blanched by pouring boiling water over and drained
1 pound potatoes, boiled, sliced and fried
4 to 6 eggs, hard boiled, peeled, and sliced in half (or as you like)
6 stalks seledri (a leafy celery that you can find in Asian supermarkets), finely sliced
6 TBS fried shallots
2 limes, sliced
In a sufficiently large pot, place the chicken with the water and salt. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until done, skimming any foam from the surface. Remove the chicken, allowing it to cool before shredding the meat with your fingers. Skim or separate the fat from the broth.
In a food processor, puree the spices until you have a relatively smooth paste. Add a little broth if needed to make the process easier. Stir the paste into the pot with the broth. Simmer for 20 minutes or so.
Prepare bowls by adding some shredded chicken, bean sprouts, sliced potatoes, half an egg, and sliced seledri. Ladle in the simmering broth. Top with fried shallots. Serve with sambal, kecap manis, and sliced limes, allowing diners to adjust the seasonings to their taste.