I first met Cherry when I ate at his Berlin eatery. He owns and runs Waroeng Mie CS, which is an Indonesian noodle place in Steglitz, specialising in authentic Indonesian noodle dishes, like Mie Ayam and the Chinese-influenced Nasi Campur.
Why do I state Nasi Campur as being “Chinese-influenced”? The definition of Nasi Campur according to Wikipedia is a dish of white rice, served with an assortment of meat and vegetable side dishes, accompanied by prawn crackers. It’s ubiquitous in the Indonesian archipelago, where it is better known as Nasi Rames, with many local variations.
In Indonesian cities like Jakarta, Semarang, Surabaya and Malang with a huge Indonesian Chinese population, Nasi Campur refers to steamed rice with an assortment of barbecued meat, mostly pork, a non-halal ingredient that 90% of the Indonesian population doesn’t eat. More for me, haha! I’m from Jakarta and have the luxury of living in an area with an abundance of wonderful Chinese food so “Nasi Campur” to me always implies crispy pork belly goodness.
Cherry’s signature dish, the Mie Waroeng CS is Cherry’s own interpretation of the Cwie Mie, a noodle dish originating from Malang, East Java, served with a crispy wantan skin. He makes the noodles fresh in his kitchen daily, and most of the things that go into the dishes he makes in-house too like the pork belly, roast pork, pickles, rendang, etc.
I think he’s taken the Cwie Mie concept to a whole new level of deliciousness. In any case, I love it.
It took some convincing from my part to get Cherry to participate in the Man in the Kitchen series. He was very humble about his cooking until I reminded him that he’s the only one, so far, in the participants who actually cooks professionally. He didn’t train as a chef; he has a degree in software engineering and had worked in IT for several years before deciding to open his eatery because he wanted to work for himself.
Then there was the issue of finding time. Running an eatery is hard work: Cherry works 7 days a week, doing food preps on Monday, which is the official day off for Waroeng Mie CS. Finding a signature recipe to share on this blog also posed a challenge. For obvious reasons, Cherry didn’t want the current recipes he uses in the eatery to be published on the blog.
Lucky for us all, Cherry and I were able to get together and do this post!
Connect to Cherry via his Waroeng Mie CS website and his Instagram. As per the last edition, the answers are in Indonesian first, with the English in italics below. My non-Indonesian readers should learn Indonesian so I can blog seamlessly in both languages, haha!
**English answers in italics, after the Indonesian answer**
How did you start cooking? Gw anak bungsu dari 3 bersaudara, cowo kabeh. Gw lulus SMA di Semarang tahun 2001 terus kursus privat bahasa 3 bulan dan langsung berangkat ke Jerman. Selama persiapan kuliah dan waktu kuliah itulah gw belajar masak sendiri, secara sering kangen masakan Mama dan Indonesia.
Masakan pertamaku di Jerman ngga sengaja bistik kelinci. Maunya beli daging ayam di toko daging, ternyata daging kelinci, hahaha, tetapi cukup berhasil dan enak, sayang ngga ada saksi hidup, hahaha. Waktu itu masak nasi juga masih pake panci, karena ngga punya rice cooker sendiri.
Di Indonesia, sebelum berangkat ke Jerman gw hampir ngga pernah masak, cuman masak Indomie,
goreng telur (masih takut-takut kecipratan minyak), masak nasgor paling juga cuma sekali, dua kali. Makin lama masakan selama di Jerman semakin bervariasi, karena kemajuan teknologi mempermudah untuk meng-akses resep-resep online.
I’m the baby of the family, with two older brothers. I graduated from highschool in Semarang in 2001 and afterwards had 3 months’ of private German language lessons in Semarang, my hometown, before attending university in Germany. During my uni years is where I learned to cook, because I missed my mother’s cooking and Indonesian food.
The first thing I cooked in Germany was accidentally rabbit steak. I wanted to buy chicken at the butcher’s and ended up with rabbit instead, but it tasted pretty good. No living witnesses to this, though, haha. Back then I also cooked rice in a pot because I didn’t own a rice cooker yet.
Prior to moving to Germany, I hardly ever cooked, only making myself instant noodles, frying eggs (and being afraid of the hot oil splashing), and making fried rice only once or twice. Living in Germany helped my cooking, more variation in what I cook since it’s so easy to find recipes online now.
What’s your favourite cuisine to cook? Why? Paling sering masak masakan Indonesia, Chinese dan terakhir masakan Korea. Masakan Chinese lebih gampang masaknya. Kalau masakan Indo kadang agak ribet nyiapin bumbu-bumbunya. Masakan Barat seringnya cuma model pasta-pasta gitu, kadang juga divariasi sendiri, biar lebih mirip Indo :P
Most often I cook Indonesian food, Chinese and followed by Korean. Chinese food is easier to make. Indonesian food you spend a lot of time hunting down and prepping the spices and herbs. Western food I mostly dabble in pasta dishes, sometimes I improvise to make them taste more Indonesian :)
Advice you’d give a homecook enthusiast or first-time dad starting out with cooking?Jangan putus asa jika gagal, terutama waktu awal-awal masak. Seiring waktu bakal terbiasa. Jangan terlalu terpaku oleh resep-resep yang ada dan jangan berhenti untuk inovasi, biar di dunia kuliner selalu makin banyak jenis masakan baru dan ngga bosenin :)
Don’t give up when your first few attempts aren’t great, or even flop. You’ll improve with time and practice. Don’t be too rigid in following recipes, allow room for improvisation and experimentation, so that the culinary world has lots of new things coming :)
Favourite kitchen equipment/gadget? Pisau daging, enak buat motong daging, saking tajamnya… :D
My meat cleaver. I keep it so sharp that it’s a joy to cut meat with it… :D
Favourite cookbooks? Ngga punya, biasanya kalau cari resep seringnya online, itu pun lihat sekilas dari beberapa result cuma ngelihat bahan-bahan. Jadi bahan-bahan dirangkum jadi satu, dan mulai deh percobaan.
I don’t have any, since I look online for recipes, and even then, I only read as far as the ingredient list. So I just summarise the ingredients and then I begin experimenting.
Any favourite food blogs or food films? God of Cookery-nya Stephen Chow :D Secara umum, gw demen semua film yg tentang makanan.
Stephen Chow’s “God of Cookery”. Generally I like all films about food.
Are there any foods that you just don’t like? Yang bau amis-amis dan jengkol, sayur pare sampai sekarang juga ngga makan.
Stuff that smell fishy or particularly “meaty” or of organs, and jengkol. I also don’t eat bitter gourd.
What’s your “Last Supper”/deathrow meal? Masakan-masakan Mama aja deh!
My mom’s homemade cooking!
Thank you, Cherry!
Now, onwards to his signature “Babi Kecap” recipe!
Cherry’s signature Babi Kecap recipe
What you need
1kg of pork and pork belly, mixed and cut into 2-4cm pieces. 1 head of garlic, finely minced. 2 teaspoons of arak, Chinese rice wine. 1 tablespoon of fish sauce. 1 tablespoon of sweet soy sauce. 1 tablespoon of salty soy sauce. 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. 2 tablespoons of peanut oil. A disc of gula Jawa, palm sugar. 200g shiitake mushrooms, sliced. A handful, approximately ⅓ cup of star anise. 500-600ml of water.
Babi kecap can be one of the dishes served in a Nasi Campur. Other typical dishes to go in Nasi Campur are cha siu (barbecued pork), roast pork belly, sate babi (pork skewers), pickled veggies, Hainanese chicken, roast duck. You get slices of cucumber and some prawn crackers or emping on your plate as well.
I got to eat all of this delicious food afterwards, lucky me, woo!
Afterwards, Cherry made me a Semarang-style es kelapa muda, which is the flesh of young coconut, served in coconut water with syrup, cincau (leaf/grass jelly) and biji selasih (basil seeds, which becomes glutinous in water), see picture below.
Es kelapa muda is ubiquitous in the Indonesian archipelago, at its most simple it’s served in its shell with a few ice cubes thrown in. At fancier places, it has additional ingredients like palm sugar, jelly, and other fruits like durian and jackfruit.
At our family mountain estate, the caretakers/gardeners climb up the coconut trees, throw the coconuts down and we hack off the tops, stick in a straw, drink the juice and use a spoon to scrape off the tender flesh of the coconut. Bliss! What a lovely way to end our lunch and interview session!
Big thank you to Cherry! See you in the next episode!