"This is a multilayered vegetable delight - each of the vegetables cooked simply or sliced and mixed with the fried tofu. The wow factor here is the dense delicious peanut sauce which fills the kitchen with the aromas of freshly roasted nuts and then the fresh scents of lemongrass, kaffir lime and lime as the base is processed. If you get a chance to visit an Asian store, seek out the little discs usually made from starch known as krupuk - they came in various flavours and Mariana likes the bitternut version which are shavings of the melinjo nuts (actually seeds). They puff up in oil just like prawn crackers and add another textural dimension to this dish - serve it with the vegetables piled high in a pyramid shape, the peanut sauce spooned over the top and a good scattering of krupuk." Maeve O'Meara, Food Safari Earth
A vibrant Indonesian salad that's full of protein (thanks, eggs and tofu) and that dense peanut sauce is what will tip this dish over the delicious edge.
- vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- 100 g firm tofu, cut into cubes
- 2 carrots, sliced into small batons
- ¼ green cabbage, sliced
- 100 g snake beans, cut into 4 cm lengths
- 1 bunch kangkung (morning glory), roughly chopped
- 100 g bean sprouts
- ¼ Lebanese cucumber, diced
- 1 medium potato, boiled, peeled and diced
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
- 100 g raw shelled peanuts
- 3 kaffir lime leaves, torn
- 5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 4 red Asian shallots, roughly chopped
- 2-5 red chillies, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp ground ginger (or Kaempferia galangal if you can find it)
- 50 ml vegetable oil
- 200 ml coconut cream
- 200 ml water
- 50 g palm sugar, shaved
- 5 tbsp raw sugar
- salt to taste
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- bitter nut crackers (krupuk), or cassava crackers, fried shallots, kecap manis and lime juice
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 sauce, preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the peanuts on a baking tray and roast for 8-10 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool slightly, then place in a small food processor with the lime leaves and process until finely ground.
Place the garlic, shallots, chilli, ground coriander, ground ginger and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a blender and process until a paste forms. Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the paste and stir for 5-7 minutes or until it starts to separate. Stir in the coconut cream and water and bring to the boil. Add the ground peanuts and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the sugars and salt and a little water if it’s too thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice.
Cook the carrot, cabbage, snake beans, kangkung and bean sprouts separately in lightly salted boiling water until just blanched. The cabbage, carrot and beans will take about 2-3 minutes while the kangkung and bean sprouts only need 30 seconds. Drain well.
Mix all the cooked vegetables with the cucumber, potatoes and eggs and spoon onto a large serving plate.
Heat the oil in a wok to 180°C. Fry the tofu until golden, then drain on paper towel. In the same oil, fry the krupuk until they expand and puff up.
Scatter the fried tofu over the vegetables and spoon over some of the peanut sauce. Lightly drizzle kecap manis over the top and add a squeeze of lime. Garnish with some of the bitter nut crackers and fried shallots. Serve with the remaining peanut sauce on the side.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Emma Warren. Creative concept by Belinda So.