This is the freshest tasting salad – crunchy fruit and vegetables with fried tofu in a sweetly sticky, slightly sour dressing, sprinkled with roasted peanuts. It includes some unusual ingredients, but they can be found at Asian grocers. Yam bean (also called jicama) is a pale brown tuber with crisp white, slightly sweet flesh. Water spinach (called kang kong in Malay but common throughout Asia) is a crunchy, hollow-stemmed green with long pointed leaves. Fried dough sticks are deep-fried strips of unsweetened dough and are also known as Chinese doughnuts or crispy crullers.
handful of bean sprouts
handful of water spinach, ends trimmed
2 large fried tofu puffs
1 fried dough stick
handful of peeled, sliced green mango
handful of peeled, sliced pineapple
handful of peeled, sliced yam bean (jicama)
handful of sliced cucumber
½ cup roughly crushed roasted peanuts
2 tbsp tamarind pulp
1–2 tsp crushed red chilli (small or long chillies depending on desired heat)
1 tbsp shrimp paste from a block (belachan), roasted in foil for about 20 minutes
2 tbsp shrimp paste from a jar (see Note)
2–3 tbsp grated palm sugar
½ lemon, juiced
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To make the dressing, soak the tamarind pulp in a little water until soft. Strain it into a large bowl – it should be a thick puree. Add the remaining dressing ingredients and mix well to a thick sauce consistency. Taste to see if you have added enough chilli and palm sugar.
Blanch the bean sprouts for 10 seconds in boiling water. Remove with a slotted spoon and leave to drain. Repeat with the water spinach. Drain and roughly cut.
Place the tofu puffs and dough stick under a griller or in a hot oven for a few minutes to crisp up. Leave to cool, then cut into bite-sized pieces.
Add the sliced fruit and vegetables to the dressing along with the bean sprouts, water spinach, tofu and dough stick. Mix well, coating everything in the dressing. Spoon into serving bowls and scatter with the crushed peanuts.
• This is not belacan. This paste comes in a jar and can be purchased from most Asian grocery stores. It has a viscous consistency.
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