Cuisine : Chef Degan shares a common thread between traditional Indonesian cuisine, Thai recipes and German delicacies

D FOR DELICIOUS. Finding a common thread between traditional Indonesian cuisine, Thai recipes and German delicacies is pretty much an impossible feat.

But not so with Degan Septoadji, the passionate chef who has headed the judging panel of MasterChef Indonesia for two seasons so far. Born in Indonesia and trained in Germany, chef Degan also learned the finer points of cookery through first-hand experience dealing with vastly different culinary traditions from various countries, including Thailand and the Bahamas. His experience and knowledge of myriad ingredients has allowed him to build an admirable mental archive that he can call on to easily reconstruct or deconstruct a dish, ringing it to a new level of epicurean heights. If that sounds hard to imagine, drop by the Letter D where the persistent yet amiable chef would present you his new signature plate, Salmon Lodeh. This elevated Indonesian favorite, with its salted fish substituted by a very elegant seafood choice, is just one of the delicious surprises that chef Degan is excited to unveil. But don’t just take our word for it, and let his unique recipes speak for themselves.





Avocado Prawn Salad


Orange Dressing:

  • 4 tbsp. fresh orange juice
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • salt and ground white pepper

Lemon Dressing:

  • 4 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and ground white pepper


  • 2 tbsp. cucumber, seeded and diced
  • 2 tbsp. tomato, seeded and diced
  • ½ tbsp. Spanish onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp. Italian parsley, finely sliced
  • 3 tbsp. lemon dressing
  • • salt and ground black pepperPrawn:
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil
    • 90gr fresh prawn, peeled and cleaned
    • 2 tbsp. orange dressing
    • 50g avocado, peeled and sliced
    • salt and black pepper
    • rucola leaves for garnish
    • watercress for garnish


    Prepare the orange dressing by whisking the orange juice and honey in a bowl. Gradually add the olive oil into the mixture and whisk evenly, then season with salt and pepper. To make the lemon dressing, whisk lemon juice in a bowl. Add the olive oil bit by bit into the lemon juice, and whisk evenly. Once again, season with salt and pepper. For the tabbouleh, put all ingredients in a bowl and mix evenly, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Moving on to the prawns; first we season them with salt and pepper to taste. Heat up a pan and sear each prawn on both sides until medium-cooked. Drizzle some of lemon dressing over the prawns before removing them from the pan. Finally, arrange the tabbouleh on the bottom of the plate. Drizzle a bit of orange dressing over the avocado and it place on top of the tabbouleh. Now set the prawnson top of avocado and garnish with rucola and watercress before serving.

“Substituting salted fish with a very elegant seafood choice, this elevated indonesian favorite is just one of chef Degan’s delicious surprises”


Thalay Pao





  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 30g salmon fillet, skin off
  • 30g snapper fillet, skin off
  • 60g prawn, peeled
  • 30g scallop, cleaned
  • salt and black pepper


  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 pcs. green asparagus
  • 25g green beans, cleaned and blanched
  • 3 pcs. cherry tomato, cut in half
  • 3 pcs potato (30g), cut into wedges
  • salt and ground white pepper
  • coriander leaves

Coriander Lime Sauce:

  • 4 tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 pc. bird eye chili
  • ½ clove garlic, peeled
  • 2 tbsp. coriander leaves, cleaned and chopped.


For the coriander lime sauce, pour lime juice, fish sauce and sugar in a bowl. Mix evenly until the sugar dissolves. Add chili, garlic and coriander leaves; and mix well. Put it aside. Evenly season the fish and shellfish with salt and pepper. Heat up a pan, add olive oil, and sear the seafood on all sides evenly until it is medium-cooked. Next up, sauté the vegetables with some olive oil until golden brown. Add the asparagus and green beans to the pan, then sauté for another minute before adding the tomatoes. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper prior to serving. Arrange the cooked seafood, potatoes and vegetables in a deep plate. Drizzle the coriander lime sauce evenly over the food and finally garnish with some fresh coriander leaves.

For the vegetables, first we steam the shallots and garlic in a pan. Again, don’t forget to add some vegetable oil. Add all the remaining vegetables and sauté them evenly, adding salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the vegetables in the center of the plate. Place the salmon on top of the vegetables; try to position it at the center of the plate. Garnish with some lemon basil (kemangi) leaves, and then gently drizzle the sauce around the vegetables. As an added touch, you can place some chopped fried tempeh on top of the salmon before serving the dish.

Iga Sap Bakar




Beef short rib:

  • 300g beef short ribs, bone-in
  • 1 tbsp. coriander seed, roasted and


  • 1 tsp. garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp. ginger, peeled and chopped
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 liter beef stock
  • 2 tbsp. sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil Chili soy sauce:
  • 1 tbsp. shallot, peeled and cubed
  • 1 tsp. bird eye chili, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. cucumber, seeded and cubed
  • 1 tbsp. fried shallot
  • 1 key lime, the juice only
  • ¼ cup sweet soy sauce


  • 1 cup cabbage, cleaned and finely sliced
  • 2 slices tomato wedges
  • 2 pcs. cucumber, seeded and cut in 10cm


  • 1 key lime, cut in half
  • Lemon basil (kemangi) leaves


Evenly mix the coriander seed, garlic and ginger in a bowl. Marinade the beef short ribs with this mixture. After letting it chill overnight, rub away the coriander from the ribs and season with salt and pepper. Pour the beef stock in a pressure cooker, then place the ribs into the pressure cooker. The beef stock should cover two-thirds of the ribs. Cook the ribs and stock in the pressure cooker for about one and a half hours. The beef should then be tender enough to almost fall off the bone. Take out the beef and let it rest. In the meantime, put all the ingredients for the chili soy sauce in a bowl and mix evenly. Then mix in sweet soy sauce and vegetable oil. Brush the mix on the beef and then place it on a hot chargrill. Keep basting the beef with the sweet soy sauce mixture, evenly on all sides, until it’s caramelized. Remove from grill to serve. Place the sliced cabbage in the center of the plate, then put the beef ribs on top of the cabbage. Pour some chili soy sauce over the beef, and finally garnish with the tomatoes, cucumber, lemon basil leaves and key lime.




Eton Mess


  • 1 scoop vanilla ice cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup fresh strawberry, cleaned, cut into wedges
  • ¼ cup strawberry coulis (puree)
  • ½ cup baked meringue, cut into bitesized cubes
  • Mint leaves for garnish


Place the heavy cream in a bowl and whisk until it’s light and fluffy. Next, mix the fresh strawberries with the strawberry puree. Fold in half of the strawberry mixture into the whipped cream. Place the vanilla ice cream in an ice cream glass, and pour the remaining strawberry mixture on top. Mix the meringue into the whipped cream mixture, and gently place the whipped cream on top of the ice cream. Garnish with mint leaves before serving.


Chef Degan Setoadji currently runs two restaurants: Café Degan in Bali and his latest venture, Letter D in Jakarta. (Jl. Ahmad Dahlan No.16, Jakarta; +62 21 7278 6111;