Kecap Manis Marinade

Kecap Manis Marinade

"This is one perfect bite! "

This is one perfect bite!

Kecap Manis, what is it you ask?  It’s a thick soy sauce sweetened with palm sugar from Indonesia.  This ingredient came to my attention via an older version of Saveur magazine and I knew instantly that I had to try it.  Problem was once I got it home I didn’t really know what to do with it.

My initial reaction:  it smelled like a cross between soy and molasses.  Not surprisingly I learned you can make your own “kecap” version at home by using, you guessed it, molasses (my nose rarely lets me down, except during cold season!) plus a few other ingredients.

My significant other’s reaction:  smells hoppy and a bit like malt.   Frankly, I think he was craving a beer although there does seem to be a slightly malty essence contained within.

Because I felt like this was one of those things like fish sauce which adds a subtle nuance when blended with other ingredients, I kept trying to crack the kecap code.  I finally asked a friend what to do with the stuff and she said it makes a killer marinade.  So I created a test batch, attacked a flank steak with a fork and then marinated it for 24 hours.  Guests unanimously rated the kecap flank “super tasty” and I hope you will too!

Kecap Manis Marinade

  • ½ cup soy (dark is preferable)
  • ¼ cup kecap manis
  • 3 Tbs. vinegar (unseasoned rice or cider)
  • 2 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. ginger (fresh or jarred)
  • 1 – 2 Tbs. sesame oil (add to your taste – sesame oil can be quite strong)
  • ½ c. sherry or white wine


  • Lime juice
  • Lemongrass (about a half stalk – cut)

Mix together all ingredients.  Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer 10 minutes.   Cook’s notes:

  • This recipe will make enough marinade for 3 lbs of flank steak.  Before marinating pierce all over with a fork (both sides).  Pour the marinade into a flat pan or plastic bag and add the meat.  Marinate up to 24 hours.
  • I also used to flavor a basic stir fry near the end of cooking.  Delish!