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Konro is an Indonesian dish made from ribs cooked in a spicy sauce that turns into a rich soup once the meat has finished cooking. The meat used when making konro is usually beef short ribs. Several types of spices are ground and fried until fragrant to make the sauce in which the meat will cook. When the soup is completed, it can be served with compressed rice or rice cooked in coconut milk. A grilled version of konro is made in nearly the same way, except the ribs are removed from the soup and grilled before being served.
The main ingredient in konro soup is beef short ribs. Some recipes call for the ribs to be cut into individual strips with the bone left in each piece, while others leave the entire rack intact for the cooking process. The meat is sometimes seared before being added to the soup liquid or may be tenderized by being boiled in water or marinated in pineapple juice.
The actual konro soup begins with a ground spice mixture or paste. The most common ingredients are coriander, pepper, garlic and onions or shallots. Tamarind paste, tamarind powder or diced tamarind pieces also are added. This paste is fried to develop its flavors before the water and ribs are added. Other ingredients, such as cinnamon, cloves and sugar, are included in some recipes.
A few unique ingredients are used in the cooking of konro soup, with the most important being kluwak nuts. These nuts are black on the inside when ripe and must be boiled to become tender enough to use. The ground kluwak nuts provide the dark coloring of the soup, making it almost black and adding a unique flavor.
Galangal is another ingredient found in many konro soup recipes. This is a rhizome that looks like ginger but actually has a different, citrus-like taste. The galangal in the soup is mashed into a paste and fried along with the other spices to allow the flavors to develop.
Once all the spices have been fried, water and the ribs are added to the pot and simmered until the meat has completed cooking. The dish can be served by placing the soup in a bowl and situating the ribs so they are sitting in the center, submerged in the liquid. The ribs also can be taken out of the soup and barbecued, then served with the soup in a separate dish. Some common side dishes served with konro soup include steamed or boiled rice cakes wrapped in palm leaves and peanuts or almonds.
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