Mee soto

by Tan, Bonny

Mee soto is a spicy noodle soup dish that combines the Indonesian chicken broth known as soto ayam with thick yellow Hokkien noodles.

The heart of every mee soto dish is the soto ayam (chicken broth). The broth is made from chicken cooked with rempah (spice paste). The ingredients used to prepare the rempah include ginger, garlic, galangal (a type of ginger root), coriander, cumin, fennel, black pepper, nutmeg, curry leaves, belacan (prawn paste) and lemon grass. The trademark yellow hue of the chicken broth comes from the turmeric that is added to the rempah. When extra cumin is added, the broth usually turns brownish in colour. When the spicy broth is served with thick yellow Hokkien noodles, it is known as mee soto.

To complete the mee soto dish, the chicken used to make the broth is shredded and layered as a topping along with blanched bean sprouts. A bergedil (fried potato cake) or sliced hard-boiled egg is sometimes added as an extra topping. The dish is usually garnished with chopped spring onions, fried onions, Chinese celery and coriander leaves. A hot chilli sauce is sometimes added to the soup to give it a spicy edge.

The origins of the soto ayam broth used for making mee soto can be traced to the Madurese migrant ethnic group who reside in the Indonesian city of Surabaya in East Java. Initially, the Madurese concocted the soup using spices only. As the dish became popular with the locals, chicken as well as other meats were added to the broth to enhance its taste. Soto ayam refers to the version where chicken is used as the base of the soup.

Soto ayam is often served with rice, especially local rice cakes such as ketupat, lontong or nasi impit. It developed into a dish specially served at traditional parties, but returned to being popular street fare following Indonesia’s independence in 1945. Soto ayam has more than 30 variants throughout Indonesia, each with different ingredients added to the basic broth. Notable varieties include soto betawi (beef), soto kudus (water buffalo meat) and mee soto.

Variant names
Mee soto ayam
Soto mee
Mi soto
Chicken soto, soto chicken, Indonesian chicken soto

Bonny Tan

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The information in this article is valid as at 11 June 2013 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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