Not-to-Miss Staples for the Best Introduction to the Bintan Regency
The Bintan Regency’s proximity to Singapore makes it an ideal weekend getaway for stressed-out individuals . Its friendly locals and fascinating history are all easily within reach, especially if you book a Bintan tour package.
A good way to get to know the soul of the Regency is by sampling the region’s flavourful cuisine. If you’re curious enough to give it a taste, follow along with our list of must-try staple dishes in and around the island.
Otak in Bahasa Indonesia means “brain.” It is said that the dish is named thus due to its resemblance to the organ. This signature dish is a savoury cake made with ground fish paste, tapioca starch, and various spices. This mixture is then wrapped in a banana leaf before being grilled over charcoal flames. Otak-otak is ubiquitous throughout the island and is often served as a complementary side dish at restaurants.
In Bintan, there are two versions of this dish. One is made with fish, as is traditional. The other variant is spicier and made with squid. Whichever way you prefer it, both versions are served with a fiery peanut sauce or broth on the side.
Tapioca is a major ingredient in Bintan’s cuisine and has a variety of uses. It can be used for both sweet and savoury dishes. For example, tapioca starch is used to thicken batters, while tapioca pearls are commonly used in desserts.
One popular dish that features tapioca is Kernas, a savoury treat from the Natuna Islands. Fresh fish (commonly tuna or mackerel) is dipped in a batter made of tapioca starch and tapioca pearls, seasoned with chili pepper, and then deep fried until golden brown. The filling is soft and smooth, while the outside is crisp and crunchy, with the pearls providing an interesting textural contrast.
Ikan Asam Pedas
Asam pedas is not so much one specific recipe as it is a culinary concept. In Bahasa Indonesia, the word asam means “sour,” while pedas means “spicy.” The combination of these two flavours is one of the foundational elements of Minang cuisine, best demonstrated by the dish ikan asam pedas. This is a staple stew that uses either freshwater or oceanwater fish as well as eggplants, okra, and tomatoes. .The meat is cooked in tamarind juice and seasoned with generous amounts of chilli and spices for a flavour kick that’s out of this world.
Have you ever wanted to try eating instead of drinking alcohol? In Bintan, you can do so by sampling tapai or tape. The Sundanese people from west Java are credited with the creation of this treat, and numerous iterations of it exist all over Southeast and East Asia
This delicacy is made with starchy staple grains or tubers, such as glutinous rice, cassava, or sweet potato. A culture called ragi tapai is then added to the grain to start the fermentation process. The mixture is allowed to ferment over the next two to four days to produce a rice wine called brem. The alcohol level varies depending on how long it’s left to ferment. The dough is then is wrapped in teak leaves and sold as a snack. Due to the way it’s created, tapai has a sweet and tangy taste with hints of yeast.
Snails are also considered a delicacy in Bintan, where it is used in stews and stir-fried dishes. In the province of Riau, the most popular variant is gonggong (L. canarium or dog conch).
Gonggong can be enjoyed in a number of ways. One variation is boiled gonggong served with a pineapple, garlic and chilli sauce. Another recipe is gonggong soup flavoured with lemongrass and chillies, often served with rice. Steamed gonggong, unadorned, is also a popular drinking snack among locals. They love it so much, in fact, that they buys nails by the kilogram
Opening yourself up to new tastes and textures is the best way to experience everything that the Bintan Regency has to offer. If you’re an adventurous eater, you might just find a new favourite dish from the region.