Asinan Jakarta

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • for

    4-6

Appears in

New Wave Asian: A Guide to the Southeast Asian Food Revolution

New Wave Asian

By Sri Owen

Published 2002

  • About

This is an Indonesian salad of raw vegetables and fruit I am not sure why it is called after the city of Jakarta, when the original (or at any rate the best-known) version comes from Bogor, to the south. Variations occur in other parts of Southeast Asia, for example in Thailand and Myanmar, where roughly chopped roasted peanuts are important for adding flavour and texture. It would commonly be sold as street food, at one time wrapped in banana leaf but now much more likely to be found in a plastic container. My new wave version is less hot and less sweet than is traditional.

Indonesians prefer shrimp paste to fish sauce as a flavouring. A much more concentrated product, it can be bought in Oriental stores as a solid paste in carefully wrapped blocks, usually labelled balachan, blachen or trassie; the Indonesian name for it is terasi. It has a very strong smell and flavour, so don’t use more than the recipe specifies, and keep it in an airtight container (it stays good for years). Most recipes require it to be roasted first. The best way to do this is to cut a few slices from the block, each about 6mm / ¼ inch thick, and cut each of these into 4 squares. Roast the squares on foil in a moderate oven or a frying pan for about 5 minutes. This creates a powerful odour, which fortunately does not hang around for long; I love it, but it does take people aback if they’re not expecting it.

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber, peeled
  • 2–3 medium carrots, peeled
  • 2 hard apples
  • 2 small yam beans or unripe pears
  • 1 small pineapple, peeled and cored (optional)
  • 115 g/ 4 oz beansprouts, cleaned
  • 115 g/ 4 oz white cabbage, finely shredded
  • 60 g/ 2 oz Chinese cabbage, finely shredded

For the Dressing

  • 60 g/ 2 oz brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp fried or grilled shrimp paste
  • 2 tbsp dried shrimps
  • 3–5 bird’s-eye chillies, or 2 small dried red chillies
  • 1 large red chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • 175 ml/ 6 fl oz distilled malt vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt

Method

Well ahead, cut the cucumber and carrots into matchsticks, taking care not to make them too small. Slice the apples and pears not too thinly (if using yam beans, peel them first) and cut the pineapple, if using, into small pieces.

Make the dressing: in a small saucepan, dissolve the brown sugar in 4 tablespoons of water over a gentle heat. Transfer this to a large glass bowl and set aside. Put the rest of the ingredients for the dressing into a blender and blend, but not too smoothly. Add this to the bowl, stir to mix well and adjust the seasoning.

Mix all the salad ingredients in the dressing and leave to stand for a few hours or overnight in the fridge or a cool place.

Just before serving, transfer the salad mixture to a large platter, garnish with the peanuts and prawn crackers, and arrange the lettuce leaves around the edge of the platter.

For the Garnish

  • 85 g/3 oz peanuts, fried or roasted
  • prawn crackers
  • some mixed lettuce leaves