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My version of Babi Kecap Manis 1-2-3

Thinking back to my childhood always brings a smile to my face, especially when I reminisce about one of my mother's all-time favorite dishes: Babi Kecap Manis 1-2-3. There's something truly magical about the combination of sour, sweet and savory flavors that melts in your mouth with every bite.

Babi Kecap Manis 1-2-3

I consider myself fortunate to have learned my mother's Babi Kecap Manis 1-2-3. You may wonder why it's called 1-2-3. Well, the recipe is based on the ratio of the three main ingredients: vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar. Specifically, 1 refers to the portion of vinegar, 2 is the portion of soy sauce (twice that of vinegar), and 3 is the portion of sugar (three times that of vinegar). For health reasons, the sugar can be reduced to 2 portions instead of 3. To put this into perspective, if you use 1/4 cup of vinegar, you would need 1/2 cup of soy sauce and 3/4 (or 1/2) cup of brown sugar.

What sets my version of Babi Kecap Manis 1-2-3 apart is the addition of coconut milk, which gives it a lusciously creamy texture and a tantalizing tropical flavor that's simply irresistible. It's amazing how one small ingredient can transform a dish and take it to a whole new level.

Whether you choose to use pork or chicken, this dish will become a favorite in your household too. It's one of those meals that brings everyone together around the table, sharing stories and making memories. And to me, that's what good food is all about - not just nourishing our bodies, but also nourishing our souls with warmth and love.


  • 300-500g pork belly and/or shoulder, sliced into bite-sized pieces

  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 3-5 Shallots, sliced

  • 1-2 Chili padi, sliced or 1/2 tsp Chili Flakes (optional)

  • [1] 1/4 cup of Chinese Vinegar/Tamarind (removes meat smell and gives sourness taste)

  • [2] 1/2 cup of Light Soy Sauce and 2 Tbsp of Dark Soy Sauce (add depth to the sauce)

  • [3] 3/4 cup of Brown Sugar or Palm Sugar

  • a box full of Shiitake mushrooms sliced into bite-sized pieces

  • 2-3 Fresh Bay Leaves

  • 1 to 1.5 cups of water

  • 250ml Coconut Milk

  • Salt and White pepper, to taste

  • 1 tbsp of cooking oil


  1. Begin by heating up oil in a large pot on medium heat. Once hot, toss in the garlic, shallots, and optional chili, and sauté until they become fragrant. For quicker softening, sprinkle in a bit of salt.

  2. Add in the pork and let it cook until it starts to brown on all sides, which should take about a minute. Afterward, pour in the vinegar, followed by the light and dark soy sauce, brown sugar, and water. Stir everything together, then cover and let it simmer over high heat. Remove the scum as it resurfaces.

  3. Next, add in the bay leaves, white pepper and Shiitake mushrooms and allow the mixture to simmer for 30 minutes, turn off the fire for 30 min. Then turn up the heat for 15 minutes until the water begins to boil, and turn it off again for 30 min. Repeat this process every hour until the pork is tender and the sauce has thickened. The entire cooking time should be about 2 hours.

  4. Finally, add the coconut milk 30 min before serving, and season with white pepper to taste. Serve the dish over a bed of rice and vegetables, enjoy!

Note: You can adjust the dish's sweetness by adding more or less brown sugar according to your preference.

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