Daging Kicap Manis (Beef with Sweet Soy Sauce)

It’s hardly surprising given the circumstances, but just six months in and I think we can all agree that 2020 is officially the Year of Comfort Food. Whether it be baking, barbecuing, or brewing, many of us have sought solace through one of the few things left we can control – food.

Under Lockdown, my own desire to wring comfort from food has meant making a lot of  my favourite Malaysian dishes – specifically those from my childhood, which naturally leads me back to my grandmother’s cooking. A prolific feeder, Amah was a classic agak-agak cook – meaning there were never any recipes, and her cooking was always a case of “a little of this, a little of that“. Of course it made for some great food, but unfortunately it meant that many of my favourite childhood dishes were lost when she passed. Undeterred, and with the taste of her food still fresh in memory, I have tried over the years to recreate some of Amah’s best dishes, and I have finally cooked my way to what is perhaps my all time childhood favourite – Daging Kicap Manis (Beef with Sweet Soy Sauce)!

A simple dish, for a simple palate; daging kicap manis is often considered a child’s dish as it is both sweet and salty, without any notable spiciness to speak of. It is the prefect choice for a fussy eater – which explains why it was a regular feature at Amah’s dining table! As a kid I was incredibly picky, and this (along with green bean omelette) was one of the few dishes I would eat without the need for bribery…or threat!

Unlike most other “chunkier” versions, Amah’s daging kicap manis was always made with thin strips of beef, and the only semblance of a vegetable was a whole lot of sliced onion. As a result, her version was pretty much devoid of any real nutritional value, but I suspect her motivation was altogether basic: she had a fussy grandchild to feed, and all else was padding. Indeed, who hasn’t had a childhood favourite ruined by an errant chunk of carrot! After all, agak-agak isn’t always about “a little of this” – sometimes its actually about “a little less of that”.

To discover other delicious Malaysian recipes from The Muddled Pantry, please click here

Daging Kicap Manis (Beef with Sweet Soy Sauce)

Serves: 4 as part of a larger meal


  • 250 g rump steak, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 tsp meat curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 cm ginger, grated
  • 1 onion, thickly sliced into rings
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup water


  • 1/4 cup kicap manis (thick sweet soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp ketchup/tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp white/rice vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. Combine the strips of beef, black pepper, curry powder, ginger and garlic. Leave to marinate for about half an hour, though less is fine
  2. Combine all the sauce ingredients in a bowl
  3. In a wok or frying pan, heat the oil on a medium flame, then add the sliced onions
  4. Cook until they begin to soften, then remove and set aside
  5. Add more oil if necessary, and increase the heat. Add the marinated beef and fry until sealed
  6. Return the onions to the wok, along with the pre-mixed sauce
  7. Add 1/2 cup of water and bring to a rapid boil
  8. Cook until the sauce thickens and becomes glossy

Serve with: plain rice and green bean omelette, or something spicy like sambal kacan goreng or sambal kangkong.

To discover other delicious Malaysian recipes from The Muddled Pantry, please click here





  1. Just found your blog and enjoying reading the Malaysian recipes. I’m based in neighbouring Botswana, and am interested, when you say curry powder, what type do you mean? If it’s a big brand we might have it for sale here too and I would be able to, more faithfully, recreate your food


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