Tekwan is one of the most beloved dishes in Indonesia, and for good reason. A vast array of flavors and textures come together in a bowl of this savory delight. The main ingredient is a fish cake made from ground whitefish and tapioca flour, which gives it an irresistibly light and fluffy texture that melts in your mouth. For added flavor, the fish cake is usually cooked with garlic, shallots, chilli, galangal, lemongrass, and herbs, while a generous topping of shrimp broth adds richness. It’s often served with noodles, fresh bean sprouts, and a tart lime and chilli sambal sauce to bring all the flavors together.


Despite its simplicity, Tekwan is a deceptively complex dish that requires a few extra steps to make it perfect. The fish cake must be steamed, and then pan-fried until crispy on the outside. Meanwhile, the broth needs to be simmered for several hours to achieve its full flavor. Finally, the combination of toppings must be just right in order to bring out the nuanced flavors and texture of the fish cake.

Tekwan may be humble, but it is no less satisfying for it. Its savory flavors, comforting texture, and delightful toppings make it a favorite not just in Indonesia, but across Southeast Asia.

Tekwan recipes

Amazing Tekwan recipes sourced from the web.

The origin of Tekwan

Tekwan, a traditional Indonesian fish cake dish, has a fascinating origin story. It all began centuries ago, when Chinese seafood traders would frequent the rainy coastal regions of the island of Java. At the time, these traders were looking for novel and profitable commodities to bring to the mainland. During this period, when the availability of ingredients was still quite limited, the Chinese traders were drawn to the abundance of fresh fish that populated the shorelines.

From this bounty they were able to craft rudimentary dishes with the ingredients they had at their disposal. One such local delicacy, which they dubbed ‘teh-kwan’ (or tea cake), soon caught on among the locals. The dish consisted of a fish paste mixed with egg, spices, and tamarind juice, all of which was then simmered in a large wok over an open fire. As the teh-kwan cooked, it developed a unique flavour and aroma, way different from the other cuisine popular on the Indonesian islands at the time.

Flash forward to today, and teh-kwan has evolved into the widely popular dish known as Tekwan. While some elements have remained unchanged, such as the freshly caught fish, egg, and spices, the cooking methods have drastically changed. Nowadays, the fish paste is seasoned with sweet soy sauce (kecap manis) before being formed into small bite-sized balls and deep fried in vegetable oil. The end result is the crisp, savoury tekwan that we know and love.

Though so much time has passed since the invention of teh-kwan, it still stands as a testament to the creativity and resourcefulness of those Chinese traders centuries ago. They may not have known it at the time, but their humble teh-kwan would one day go on to become a beloved delicacy across Indonesia.

Types of Tekwan

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Ah, the glorious dish known as Tekwan! A popular Indonesian food found in many of the bustling cities around the archipelago, Tekwan is an absolute delight to be savored. Whether you’re a fan of soups or simply enjoy savoring every last drop from your bowl, Tekwan has something for everyone.

No two recipes for Tekwan are quite the same. Depending on who’s making it, the ingredients and flavor can vary drastically, making it hard to pin down any one single definition. What remains true in almost all creations, however, is the inclusion of fishballs; a traditional element that makes Tekwan unique. Beyond that, its delightful ingredients range from elephant ear mushrooms to tau pok (tofu puff) and everything in between.

Despite this variety, some Tekwan dishes manage to stand out from the rest. The first of these is Tekwan Udang, made with large shrimps as its main feature. This dish is most well-known among locals, as the shrimp provides a great level of sweetness that gives Tekwan an extra layer of flavor.

Then there's Tekwan Tomyam, the soup variant of the dish. This recipe incorporates lively ingredients such as galangal, chili peppers, and lemongrass, giving the dish an intense sour and spicy kick. It is usually enjoyed by locals and travelers alike, often served as a side to complement other dishes.

And finally, perhaps the most peculiar type of Tekwan is the dessert variety - Tekwan Beras. This recipe utilizes glutinous black rice as its core ingredient, mixing in notes of sugar and coconut milk for good measure. Although it’s not as commonly found in restaurants as the other variants, this dessert variation gives Tekwan a sweeter, more savory taste that cannot be replicated elsewhere.

No matter which type you choose to try, Tekwan is sure to satisfy your culinary cravings. The wide variety of ingredients and intense flavors ensure that each bite is guaranteed to make an impression, proving why Tekwan’s popularity continues to soar even today.