Javanese Bamie

I picked up this book on Saturday from a charity shop in Kilburn. It’s called Simple Oriental Cookery and it’s from 1960, published by Peter Pauper Press and compiled by Edna Beilenson (a quick search reveals that similar titles existfor a range of other cuisines, Beilenson was fairly prolific, it would appear!).

It features recipes from China, Japan, Indonesia, Hawaii, India and the Near East, and is a whistlestop tour of basic food from these areas. It has amazing bold pictures like these, by Ruth McCrea (my searches also show that there is a book called The ABC of Cocktails by McCrea from 1962, which, if it’s got illustrations like these, is a seriously tempting purchase..)

Tonight I decided to make something from it for dinner. I wanted something simple and the recipe for Javanese Bamie fitted the bill. It’s a very straightforward veg, beansprout, shrimp and pork noodle dish – although on looking up Javanese food on Wikipedia it says that, what with most Javanese people being Muslim, pork isn’t found in their food, so I suspect that the recipe book has muddled Java with somewhere else (or Islam hadn’t reached Java in 1960?). Googling ‘bamie’ doesn’t come up with anything Java specific; instead the results tend to suggest the dish is Balinese or Indonesian generally rather than Javanese (there’s even one result which suggests Surinam). I guess it’s probably generally Indonesian, and can be made with things other than pork. ‘Bamee’ would appear to be something to do with Thai noodles, so perhaps this is an alternate spelling. But let’s not get muddled up in comparative linguistics. It’ll only end in tears. Here’s the recipe:

Javanese Bamie (serves 4)

4 pork chops

4 onions

1 bunch scallions

Garlic, crushed

1 bunch parsley

1 white cabbage (small)

1 bunch celery

1 can beansprouts

1/2 pound shrimp

soy sauce

1/2 pound noodles

1 lemon

4 eggs

Cut all ingredients, meat included, into small pieces. Fry the pork squares until dark brown, fry the onions separately, put the together in a heavy skillet, add crushed garlic, then the other vegetables and the shrimp, and add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Do not cook too long.

Cook the noodles and add these last. Serve with pieces of lemon and top each individual plate with fried egg.

Here’s what it looked like (apologies for the quality of the photos in this post; I am not skill with a camera):

Notes and observations

  • Pork does not turn dark brown when fried! I slow fried the cubes then drained off the liquid and let them go a bit almost burnt (ha, ‘let them’. It was an accident). The meat was quite dry/ chewy unsurprisingly. I think it would benefit from marinading for a bit in something beforehand.
  • I forgot to buy noodles so these weren’t included, oops.
  • Hot celery is a bit ugh.
  • I halved the amounts as I only wanted to make 2 portions, but it still made at least 3 meals and that was without the noodles.
  • Soy sauce was the only seasoning – this dish could be livened up with ginger/ coriander and shitloads more garlic (I used 3 cloves and could barely taste it).
  • Scallions are spring onions!
  • I don’t know what a skillet is and I certainly don’t have one, so used a frying pan (Google image search suggests this for ‘skillet‘, I doubt they would be hugely receptive to any attempt to cook in them. Also, who still looks like that? It’s not 1998 anymore).
  • Pretty much any foodstuff (and sometimes non-foodstuffs) is improved by the addition of a fried egg on top. I suspect I shall repeat this assertion as time goes by. It will remain true.
  • I burnt the egg too. And the yolk ran. I know I know I know. I can’t even fry an egg!


It tasted ok. Nothing special, but a nice enough week night dinner. I can see myself cooking it again but trying out more seasoning, marinading the meat and perhaps using chicken or beef to try to combat the dryness of the meat.
Cooked by Alix


4 responses to “Javanese Bamie

  1. Ahahahaha! I had heard of that Skillet (in the xtian rock band sense of the name). In my house, a skillet is a frying pan, generally cast iron. I’d try a fattier cut of pork instead of chops or loin, maybe a bit of butt or shoulder or even sidepork. That would be much moister.

    As a collector of old cookbooks (also etiquette and household management books), I highly approve of this experiment and look forward to more adventures.

  2. vintagecooking

    So I accidentally got it right with the skillet, sort of. Hurrah! Fattier pork probably is the way to go – I cut a lot of the fat off so I could use it in stock later on, perhaps I should have been less frugal…

    I had some more of this for lunch just now and it’s tasting pretty good a day later. No fried egg this time though : (

  3. FWIW, the Indonesian spelling is “bakmie” (though Indonesians refer to noodles in general as “mie”). The dish is still eaten today, but usually with chicken. In most parts of Indonesia, you’d call this dish “mie goreng” (fried noodles). But since your version doesn’t have the noodles, it’s more like just a stir fry. 😉 There are lots of non-Muslim people living in Indonesia today, so you’ll still find versions with pork.

    Looks pretty tasty, regardless! I could definitely go for some right now. 🙂

  4. Thanks for the input, Avitania. I am certainly finding that the naming and spelling of dishes from other countries is a little, erm, patchy in older books!