Versatile Vegetable Stew

(My version of gulai sayur. Origin: Indonesia)

Here is my version of gulai, which refers to the flavorful yellow broth made of turmeric, chili peppers, garlic, shallot, and coconut milk. It makes such a wonderful vegetable stew. In fact, I have written a couple of versions of this recipe before, titled Chayote Squash in Spicy Broth and Spicy Kale. Today, I’d like to adjust it a bit to show how easy and versatile it could be.

Squash and Shiitake Mushroom by Tiny Chili Pepper

When summer comes to an end, it usually yield tons of produce. Like many of you, I love going to farmers market to get those goodies. Maybe like some of you, I tend to get too many things. Just like the other day, I got a variety of peppers and tons of shallots and garlic—the three key ingredients in Indonesian cooking and in this vegetable stew recipe. I also had a couple of Chayote squash and two handful of shiitake mushroom in the fridge.  So, here’s what I did with them:

Prepared the vegetables:

  • Peeled, cored, and sliced the Chayote squash into long and thin cuts. Then I soaked the cuts in a bowl of water mixed with salt for about 30 minutes to get rid of the sap. Could be substituted with summer squash/zucchini/ bell pepper (see more vegetable options on the bottom of the page)
  • Remove the shiitake stems and roughly chopped the mushroom

Prepared the gulai broth:

List of ingredients:

  • 4 shallots
  • 4 garlic
  • 3 hot peppers (red/orange color)
  • 3 sweet peppers (red/orange color)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2-3 cups of water
  • 1/2 can of light coconut milk
  • 1/2 inch of sliced galangal root (or 1 lemongrass) to add lemony aroma to the stew. Could be substituted with lemon zest (from one lemon).

Steps:

  • Chopped shallots, garlic, hot peppers, and sweet peppers in a food processor (or blender)
  • Added turmeric powder and a little bit of salt to the mixture
  • Sweat it in a heated pot with a tablespoon of vegetable oil, to release the moisture
  • Added water and galangal root, let it simmer
  • Added coconut milk, stirred
  • Once the broth simmered for the second time, I added the squash and mushroom
  • Let them stew for about five minutes or until the broth simmered for the third time
  • Removed galangal root before serving

At dinner time, my guy had a good point. He said that the stew’s contents could vary. We could have different types of vegetables with (or without) mushroom or even with tofu/tempeh/some seafood in it. Aha! That comment gave me an idea. I listed several produce that would taste great in this vegetable stew recipe:

Choose one vegetable or do a pairing of a vegetable with either mushroom/one of the seafood selections/tofu/tempeh from the following list: (I’d combine up to two things to avoid stew overcrowd)

Vegetable:

  • Summer squash
  • Zucchini
  • Chayote
  • Eggplant
  • Bell peppers
  • String beans

For these greens, I prefer to have it just by itself in the stew, not in a combination.

  • Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Collard Green

Mushroom:

  • (I like using) Shiitake mushroom

Seafood:

  • Smoked salmon (I’d cut it into small square and add into the stew closer to the end of cooking, since it is already cooked)
  • Shrimp (cook together with the vegetable of choice in the simmering broth until shrimp is fully cooked, about 5 minutes)

Soy-based protein goodies:

  • Tofu (extra firm and cut into small square. Cook together with the vegetable of choice in the simmering broth for about 5 minutes)
  • Tempeh (cut into small square and cook together with the vegetable of choice in the simmering broth for about 5-10 minutes)

What do you think? Anything else we could try? I’ll add to the list if I could think of more.

Thanks for stopping by!

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