Chicken Bakso with Pickled Shallots

By Georgina Hayden From the book Stirring Slowly: Recipes to Restore and Revive
Chicken Bakso with Pickled Shallots from Stirring Slowly

This was one of my favourite meals while travelling around Indonesia. Bakso is a delicious meatball noodle soup, laced with tonnes of spicy sambal. Traditionally, bakso meatballs are made with tapioca starch and then boiled, which gives them a light, almost mousse-like texture. Here, I’ve switched the tapioca for breadcrumbs to make them a bit more accessible, and finished them with a pile of quick-pickled shallots on the side. So good.

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For how many? Serves 4


  • 175g chard
  • 250g medium egg noodles
  • 1.5l fresh beef stock
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 3cm piece of ginger
  • 1/2 bunch coriander
  • 1/2 garlic clove
  • 300g skinless and boneless chicken thighs (feel free to use beef mince if you'd prefer)
  • 1 large egg
  • 80g stale breadcrumbs
  • groundnut or vegetable oil
  • sambal (or chilli sauce of your choice), to serve
  • 1 lime
  • For the Shallot Pickle:
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp rice vinegar (you cab also use white wine vinegar)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Shred the chard and place it in the boiling water along with the noodles. Cook everything for 4 minutes, drain and evenly distribute between 4 serving bowls.

2. Refill the saucepan with the stock and add the star anise and cinnamon. Thickly slice the ginger, add it to the pan and gently bring everything to the boil over a medium heat. Once the stock is boiling reduce the heat to low, and leave to simmer for 30 minutes.

4. Next, make the pickle. Peel the shallots and finely slice them. Mix in a bowl with the caster sugar, rice vinegar and a good pinch of salt. Leave to one side.

5. Pick the coriander leaves and keep for garnishing later. Finely chop the coriander stalks, and peel and finely chop the garlic. Chop the chicken into small pieces and place in a food processor with the garlic and coriander stalks along with a generous pinch of salt and pepper and blitz everything together until super smooth. Add the breadcrumbs and egg and pulse till smooth. Use a tablespoon to scoop up the mixture and roll into small meatballs, around 2.5cm big. Place a large frying pan on a medium heat, drizzle in a little oil and add meatballs to the pan. Fry for 4 – 5 minutes until they are golden all over, then reduce the heat a little and cook for a further 4 – 5 minutes until cooked through.

6. To serve, ladle the hot infused stock over the noodles and chard. Finish with the meatballs, a dollop of sambal, a spoonful of the pickled shallots, and the picked coriander leaves. Cut the lime into wedges and serve on the side.

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