Malaysian Sweet, Sour & Hot Salad

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This week I am sharing another wonderful recipe from the fabulous and very small cookbook The Higher Taste. This cookbook has a great variety of sweet and salty recipes from around the world and is a great starter vegetarian cookbook for not much cash.

Personally I think the combination of spicy, sour and sweet is divine. I also happen to think that these flavour combinations are extra divine when used with light and fresh ingredients like perhaps in a salad. Salad dishes from countries such as Vietnam and Thailand are so delicious and refreshing that I often can’t get enough. I am totally addicted to green papaya salad (unfortunately I don’t get it much). This salad fits the bill perfectly and although I don’t have much experience with Malasian food if this salad is anything to go by I think I could dig it.

Malaysian Sweet, Sour & Hot Salad (Rojak)
Serves 6

The Chinese-Malay salad known as rojak is an example of a classic Indonesian dish (called rujak), a dish that has developed as a hybrid somewhere else. This version tantalizes the senses with a brilliant array of hot, sweet, sour, and salty tastes, coupled with an assortment of juicy, slippery, leafy, crunchy, spongy and crispy textures. Really it tastes as good as it sounds.

1/2 large ripe firm pineapple, cut into wedges
1 large green mango peeled, seeded and cut into thin wedges
1 choko (chayote) peeled, slices thin and lightly salted
1 small yam bean (jicama, bangkwang) peeled, and cut into wedges
2 Lebanese cucumbers cut into wedges
100 g fried bean-curd cubes, quartered or oven grilled tofu
Leaves from 1 bunch kangkong (water convolvulus) or 1 bunch watercress
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely ground

Sauce:
2 tablespoons tamarind pulp, reconstituted in ¼ cup water
2 tablespoons kechap manis (sweet soy sauce)
2 teaspoon sambal oelek or chopped fresh chilies
1 teaspoon sweet chili sauce
1 tablespoon palm sugar, finely ground

1) Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar.

2) Serve by arranging the prepared fruits and vegetables, bean curd and kangkong (watercress) leaves on a platter or in individual serving bowls. Drizzle over the sauce and sprinkle with the chopped peanuts. Alternatively, allow each diner to drizzle their own sauce.

As you may have noticed, there are some rather exotic ingredients in this dish. I would suggest a trip to your local Asian grocery store to stock up. Some things may also be substituted such as the Lebanese cucumber. If you simply cannot find these special cucumbers a regular cucumber would also work but I would suggest removing some of the seeds to cut some of the water.

Although this recipe seems somewhat more complicated than your average salad it is worth the effort. The flavour combinations are absolutely delicious.

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