(My version of sayur asem)
Here’s another favorite, Indonesia-origin, vegetable dish in our home. Though its main ingredient is tamarind, a sour fruit typically used in many Southeast Asian cuisines, this soup has a lot more to offer than just a tangy flavor. It has a good balance of sweet, sour, and spicy. The vegetable selections of corn, green beans, and cabbage give crunchy texture to the dish, while a little bit of hot peppers adds a nice punch.
Here’s my take on this East Java version of sayur asem or the vegetables sour soup:
List of things we need:
- 1 small bag of frozen sweet corn
- 1 cup of green beans cut into shorter lengths (traditionally Indonesians use Yardlong Beans instead of green beans).
- 1 small cabbage (remove wilted outer leaves, halve, remove the stem, and slice). If you can’t find a smaller cabbage, use ½ of the regular size.
- 1 inch cube cut of seedless wet tamarind/ tamarind block
- 4 shallots
- 3 garlic
- 4 Candlenuts
- A pinch of shrimp paste
- 2-3 Thai peppers
- ½ inch cut of Galangal root for the aroma
- Fill 1/3 of a large pot with water over medium heat
- Chop and mix shallots, garlic, Candlenuts, shrimp paste, Thai peppers in a food processor
- Add the mixture into the pot along with tamarind, Galangal root and a little bit of salt. Bring to boil, reduce the heat a little bit, and let the broth cooks for another 20-30 minutes or until the tamarind dissolves.
- Remove galangal root and tamarind pulp, before adding the vegetables into the broth, using a food colander or strainer and a big bowl. (Strain the broth using a colander or a food strainer into the big bowl and then return the broth back to the pot.)
- Add the vegetables into the pot and bring to boil.
- Turn of the heat and cover the pot with a lid. I let the vegetable soup rest for half hour to an hour before serving. That way the vegetables have some time to absorb all of the wonderful flavors. It taste even better the next day too!