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What Is Bakmi?

Rebecca Cartwright
Rebecca Cartwright

Bakmi is a Chinese word that literally means "meat noodle." It refers to a kind of egg noodle introduced into south-east Asia by the Chinese. Today it is most commonly used as part of the name of any of a number of Indonesian dishes made with those noodles. In addition to the noodles, Indonesian bakmi recipes usually include meat, often chicken, and a variety of vegetables. There are many regional and local variations of the dishes.

Discussion of Indonesian noodle-based dishes can be confusing because there are several different words for noodles in Indonesian. In addition to "bakmi," mie and bami also mean noodle and the words are used interchangeably. For instance, chicken with noodles is sometimes called "bakmi ayam" and sometimes "mie ayam" or "bami ayam." Regardless of the name used, it is one of the most popular noodle dishes in Indonesian cuisine.

Bakmi is often flavored with shallots.
Bakmi is often flavored with shallots.

There are two parts to bakmi ayam including a seasoned stir-fry and a broth-based soup. For the stir-fry, chicken and noodles are quickly cooked along with vegetables and a variety of seasonings. The soup consists of chicken broth with meatballs, wontons, or both. Each part of the dish is served in a separate bowl. Many diners dip the noodles and chicken in the broth, or add broth to the noodles and chicken.

The vegetables in this dish are usually a mixture of bitter and sweet leafy greens. Bok choy and Chinese celery are two that are often used. Common seasonings include shallots, garlic and soy sauce. Kecap manis, Indonesian sweet soy sauce, is also frequently added. Ginger and chilies are other possible flavoring ingredients.

Another popular noodle dish is bakmi goreng, or fried noodles. This is a dry stir-fried mixture of chicken, vegetables and noodles, with egg added. The chicken is cooked with garlic, shallots, and other seasonings, then a soy sauce-based seasoning mixture is added along with the noodles. Once this is completed, eggs are broken into the hot pan and stirred until cooked, then mixed with the chicken and noodles. Finally, the vegetables, which have been lightly pre-cooked, are added.

Vegetables for bakmi goreng can be bok choy, celery, bean sprouts or anything that is green and crisp. Candlenuts,which are high in fat, are often added or, if they are not available, macadamia nuts can be substituted. The dish usually has chilies or chili paste added to make it spicy, along with generous amounts of garlic and ginger. Other kinds of meat or seafood, such as sliced meatballs or shrimp, are sometimes added.

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    • Bakmi is often flavored with shallots.
      Bakmi is often flavored with shallots.