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  • Alegra Mutia Susilo

Selat Solo: A Delicious Blend of European Flavors with a Royal Javanese Twist

Updated: Sep 23, 2023


(Image credits: Shuttershock via kompas.com)


Are you a young Indonesian eager to explore the rich heritage of your country's culinary traditions? Look no further than the fascinating story behind Selat Solo, a dish that combines European steak elements with the refined tastes of the Kasunanan Surakarta (Solo) royals.


A Symphony of Flavors

Selat Solo, also known as Selat Galantin, is a dish dominated by a rich brown sauce made primarily from soy sauce. Its taste is a harmonious blend of sweetness, tanginess, and savory goodness.


A Tale of Culinary Fusion

The history of Selat Solo has roots in the colonial era when European settlers brought their ingredients and cooking techniques to Indonesia. However, not all European foods were readily accepted by the aristocrats of Kasunanan Surakarta. Local tastes and culture played a pivotal role in shaping this dish.


Javanese cuisine is renowned for its sweetness, which posed a delightful challenge for adapting European-style steak to suit the palates of the Kasunanan Solo royals. Kecap (soy sauce) was employed to infuse the dish with sweetness, replacing English Worcestershire sauce and mayonnaise.


The Birth of Selat Solo

Selat Solo is essentially a fusion of steak and salad, and its name is a testament to its unique character. "Selat" comes from the Dutch word "slachtje," meaning salad, while "Solo" originates from the Dutch "biefstuk" for steak. In Europe, steak is traditionally served as a large, medium-rare cut of meat. However, the Kasunanan Solo royals were not accustomed to such preparations. Consequently, the semi-rare steak was transformed into minced beef mixed with sausages, breadcrumbs, and eggs. This mixture was shaped into cylindrical forms, akin to rice cakes, and wrapped in banana leaves.


The dish was then steamed to perfection. Once cooled, the meat was sliced thick and fried with a touch of margarine.


The Art of Presentation

Selat Solo is served with a medley of vegetables, including boiled carrots and green beans, tomatoes, and lettuce. To satiate one's appetite, the dish is complemented by crispy fried potatoes. A dollop of mustard sauce usually adorns the lettuce leaves, and some variations even include pickled cucumbers. Another distinctive feature of Selat Galantin is the presence of boiled eggs.


The combination of steak and vegetable salad gives Selat Solo a vibrant appearance that is simply irresistible.


A Dash of Spice and Aroma

Like a traditional steak, Selat Solo is sprinkled with coarse black pepper, offering a subtle kick of spiciness. The sauce is also imbued with the delightful scent of nutmeg.


What truly sets Selat Solo apart is its unique serving style. Unlike European-style steaks served piping hot, Selat Solo is always presented chilled. However, some restaurants in Solo can accommodate warm servings upon request.


Ready to Savor the Magic?

Intrigued? Don't forget to savor this Javanese-style steak when you visit Solo. Selat Solo, with its rich history and delicious flavors, promises an unforgettable culinary experience that pays homage to Indonesia's rich heritage. So, venture out and embark on a flavorful journey through time with Selat Solo!


The above article was written by a guest contributor.


About the Contributor


Alegra Mutia Susilo, a student at Universitas Sebelas Maret, has found herself captivated by the charm of Surakarta, often referred to as 'The Spirit of Java.' In her current city of residence, Alegra's deep interest extends to exploring and immersing herself in the rich tapestry of local culture: from the intricate artistry of batiks to the majestic keratons, and, not least, the tantalizing world of Surakarta's culinary treasures.



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