Woku Manado (Spicy Basil Sauce)

Manado, an Indonesian city located in the province of North Sulawesi, is home to some of my favorite Indonesian dishes. While some regions focus on bringing heavy and rich flavors to their food, Manadonese cuisine accentuates freshness and sourness to the salt and spicy we normally get in an Indonesian dish. The dish I am introducing right now is one of the dishes I obsess the most because it’s so amazing — The traditional dish requires some kind of meat (chicken or red snapper) to be cooked in the woku sauce, but as usual I am replacing it with tofu and tempe.


The ingredients you need to make this wonderful recipe:

Main ingredients:

Half a pack of tempe, cut into 2cm squares, 1cm thick

300g of tofu, cut into 2cm squares, 1cm thick

1 ripe red tomato, thinly sliced

10 green cherry tomatoes

a handful of lemon basil leaves (Indonesian: kemangi; substitutable with regular basil)

Salt and sugar to taste

Cooking oil

For the base paste:

5 large shallots

3 cloves of garlic

5 bird’s eye chili

2 cm piece of ginger

1 tsp of turmeric powder

For the aromatics:

1 lemongrass (Indonesian: sereh)

2-3 kaffir lime leaves (Indonesian: daun jeruk)

The steps for making woku manado:

  1. Pan-fry some tofu and tempe until golden brown and crispy. Meanwhile prepare the ingredients for the paste and grind everything until smooth.
  1. Stir-fry the paste along with one lemongrass and a couple of lime leaves. Cook it for about 2 minutes, then add some sliced red tomatoes in. Season the sauce.
  2. When the tomatoes are soft, put in the fried tofu and tempe. Coat everything with the sauce. Add in some water if the sauce turns dry.
  3. Put in a handful of lemon basil leaves and green cherry tomatoes. Cook until the basil leaves wilt. Adjust your seasoning and it’s ready to be served.


Can’t find the ingredients? You can skip green tomatoes, substitute lemon basil with any kind of basil, and susbtitute tempe with chicken or fish or egg.

Woku with hard-boiled egg. You can make woku soupy too!

2 thoughts on “Woku Manado (Spicy Basil Sauce)

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