Versatile Vegetable Stew

Seafood Recipes, Vegetable Recipes

(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).


  • 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)


  • 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


  • (I like using) Shiitake mushroom


  • 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!

Summer Party on a Plate: Grilled Sea Scallops, Guacamole, Mango Salsa, and Beets Orange Salad

Salad, Seafood Recipes, Vegetable Recipes

There are days when I get highly motivated. When they come, something like this materializes:

Party on a plate by Tiny Chili Pepper

Moved by a warm summer day with the perfect breeze, I went a little overboard with Wednesday’s dinner menu.  I wanted something light and colorful.  Grilled scallops, mango salsa, and guacamole immediately came to mind. But as I walked around the farmers market, I also got some beets (and a lot of other things!). I had never cooked beets before but I was curious about it.


When I got home, I realized that I forgot to get cilantro for my mango salsa and guacamole. So, I substituted with green onions, which worked out quite well for both dishes—though I still prefer using cilantro. For this version of my mango salsa, I chopped 10 cherry tomatoes, two garlic, four cayenne peppers, and three green onions in a food processor. I added a little bit of lime juice and salt to the salsa before I mixed it with the mango slices. I also cut more cherry tomatoes, each into four pieces, and added them to the mango salsa.


For the guacamole, I followed the recipe I wrote last year. The combination of creamy avocado with cumin, lime juice, salt, garlic, and onion made such a wonderful treat (cilantro would add a fantastic taste and aroma to it too). And it wasn’t hard to make at all! I like to have guacamole and mango salsa as side dishes for grilled fish as well.

Guacamole by Tiny Chili Pepper

For the sea scallops, I marinated them with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice from one lemon, salt, and pepper. After 15 minutes, I threaded the scallops onto the skewers (which I have soaked in water for about 15 minutes prior to using). It’s much easier to grill scallops this way. Then, I grilled them for about three minutes on each side.

Grilled Sea Scallops by Tiny Chili Pepper

I saw a recipe called Perfect Roasted Beets with Orange Slices in a magazine and was intrigued by it. I basically followed the recipe but did not have sherry vinegar so I went without. The result? The orange slices and juice gave sweet taste to the dish. But the beets’ earthy flavor was definitely something for me to get used to. Let’s see, maybe I could find a different beet recipe to try. Do you have one to recommend?


Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Chicken Satay with Walnut Sauce

Poultry Recipes

Chicken Satay w Walnut Sauce by Tiny Chili Pepper 1

Grilling on skewers seems like a universal way to cook meat, don’t you think? Most citizens of the world probably have their own versions and names for it. Still, it’s the same delicious idea :). Indonesians (and some of our South East Asian neighbors) call this method as sate or satay. As a popular street food in the country, satay comes in different variation depending on the region. In my hometown, chicken satay with peanut sauce seems to be consistently in demand. One common scene close to dinner hours would be seeing a satay vendor push his cart on residential streets while calling out, “Teee…Sate.” Someone would usually shout back from their porch, “Satay man, come.” The vendor would stop in front of that house and start grilling. With a traditional bamboo fan on one hand, he’d fan the charcoal grill on his cart and turn and adjust the satay, to make sure they’re cooked properly, with the other hand. A wonderful aroma would fill the air. Once the satay is done, he’d start mixing the peanut sauce, shallots, sweet soy sauce, and chili paste and place the satay on top of it. I loved watching this “performance” when I was little.

by Tiny Chili Pepper

I think what makes chicken satay so special would be the sauce. That nutty, sweet, savory, and tangy flavors…all in perfect harmony. Inspired by a recent cookout at a friend’s house, I decided to make my version of chicken satay this week. I’ve made peanut sauce before but this time I used the raw walnuts that I had at home. So here it goes:

For the chicken satay, we’ll need:

  • 5-10 skewers (soaked in water for 15 minutes)
  • 2-3 boneless and skinless chicken breasts (get the smaller size). You could also use boneless and skinless chicken thighs. Cut into strips (same size) to make them skewer-friendly.
  • 2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Coriander powder
  • Ginger powder
  • Lime juice from ½ lime

Walnut sauce:

  • 1 cup of raw walnuts
  • 3 shallots
  • 4 garlic
  • 3 cayenne peppers
  • Lime zest from 1 lime
  • Lime juice from ½ lime
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoon of sweet soy sauce (substitute with: a mix of 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of honey)


  • Marinade the chicken strips with olive oil, lime juice, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a dash of coriander and ginger powder. Set them aside for 10-15 minutes.
  • In a food processor, mix: walnuts, shallots, garlic, peppers, salt, lime zest, and lime juice.
  • Heat up a non-stick pan and cook the walnut mixture for two or three minutes until it starts to brown.
  • In a bowl, mix the cooked walnut blend with the sweet soy sauce. Taste and adjust accordingly. I like to add thinly sliced shallots to the sauce at the end.
  • Thread the chicken meat onto the skewers.
  • Fire up the grill and cook them thoroughly (mine went for about 5 minutes on each side).
  • On a serving plate, set the chicken satay and drizzle with the walnut sauce.

with Mango Sambal by Tiny Chili Pepper

Great to serve with rice or grilled corn or just by itself. I served mine with  mango sambal and rice. A nice dinner-for-two out on our little patio 🙂

Have a great day and thanks for coming!