I always try to consume healthy food. But, sometimes I cannot refuse gorengan or fried snacks. It can be fried tofu, tempeh, with wheat flour and seasoning; bala-bala (slices of carrot and cabbage); banana with wheat flour and sugar; or cireng, acronym of aci digoreng or fried aci (tapioca flour). Just bite it, and you will feel like biting a rubber. Yes, cireng is elastic and hard to chew.
Cireng is from West Java. Once, it was a humble snack, just like other gorengan. The composition was tapioca flour, wheat flour, water, salt, onion, and oil to fry. It was sold with another kind of gorengan in small shop in the village or peddled from quarter to quarter.
Then, there comes some innovations. For instance, cireng with oncom (such a fermented soybean) or crushed nuts. Yet, they sell it in gorengan cart. Occasionally, they stay in crowded places, like station, market, in front of school, square, etc.
And nowadays, cireng has some attractive look. Star, a half round, flower, triangle, square. And it is all bigger! Many tastes also from its fill-in: corned beef, sausage, cheese, not only oncom or crushed nuts. That is why we call it cireng isi (filled-in cireng). The price starts from 1,500 IDR.
Can you believe, this cheap snack then becomes good business. Cireng now is not just sold in West Java, but also in whole Indonesia. In Bandung alone, there are some cireng restaurants (yes, they only serve cireng and its derivatives). A delivery service? Name it. Some people sell cireng online to everywhere in Indonesia.
However, if you cannot find cireng in around you, you are very welcome to visit Bandung. Like peuyeum (fermented cassava), you may buy cireng as a gift specialty from the flower city. I have heard, uncooked cireng can be saved about 2-3 days.
But I think you should pick the fresh ones right before you leave. And by the time you get home, put your cireng in refrigerator or cook it rightly. Then, serve it with small chili, chili or nut sauce. Trust me, it is delicious. [photos from Friedchillies.com and Camelia-at-home.blogspot.com]