Comfort Cooking

Toss your own rojak

Wondering what to cook today? STFood Online Editor Hedy Khoo whips up easy eats to try at home

ST PHOTOS: HEDY KHOO
ST PHOTOS: HEDY KHOO

Making your own rojak is not only fun, but also gives you full control over what goes into it, so you can add more of the ingredients you like to eat.

The portions given here are just a guide and you get to decide on what ingredients you want to use and how much.

You get more value too, especially if you are not a fan of the basic version, which is simply a toss-up of you tiao (dough fritters), pineapple and bang kwang (jicama).

For me, a must-have ingredient is torch ginger bulb, colloquially known as "rojak flower", which adds a floral perfume to this Asian salad.

Green mango and jambu (water apple) add plenty of aromatic crunch to the savoury-sweet mix.

Get a traditional clay rojak bowl and wooden spatula if you intend to make rojak more than once. If you do not have a rojak bowl, make do with an ordinary mixing bowl.

You can toast the you tiao and tau pok (fried beancurd puffs) so they are hot and crispy when you toss them with the other ingredients.

With the quality of manufactured condiments these days, preparing the dish is a matter of assembling what you want to go into the mix.

You can get ready-to-use rojak sauce, but I prefer stirring up my own.

Some folks, even rojak sellers, swear by Penang-made prawn paste. I use Shrimp & Boy Brand prawn paste, which is made in Penang but available online at Shopee and giant.sg, as well as provision shops here.

It is more convenient to buy a small packet of dried chilli paste from the market than to make your own. Look for the plain type without additives.

I also skip making tamarind juice from pulp. I suggest getting a bottle of Adabi Asam Jawa Xtra, which is ready-to-use seedless tamarind paste. Keep it in the fridge once opened.

The downside of making rojak is ending up with leftover ingredients, but this is easily resolved.

For the bang kwang, use the remainder for soup. As for the leftover green mango, make a little more of that rojak sauce and use it as a dip.

ROJAK

INGREDIENTS

• 100g bean sprouts

• 100g kangkong

• 43g sugar

• 1 bottle of prawn paste (230g)

• 60g tamarind paste

• 50g plain chilli paste

• 1 torch ginger bulb

• 250g bang kwang (jicama)

• 1 green mango (250g, use one-third)

• 1 water apple (125g)

• 1 Japanese cucumber (180g)

• 1 50g pineapple, cut into bite-size pieces

• 2 pairs of you tiao (fried dough fritters, separated)

• 4 tau pok (60g, fried beancurd puffs, square-shaped)

• 2 century eggs

• 100g crushed peanuts

METHOD

1. In a pot, bring 1 litre of water to a boil. Add ¼tsp sugar.

2. Blanch the bean sprouts for one minute. Remove the bean sprouts from the pot and plunge into iced water. Drain off excess water and set aside.

3. Blanch the kangkong for 11/2 minutes. Remove it from the pot and plunge it into iced water. Drain excess water and set aside.

4. Toast the you tiao and tau pok.

5. To prepare one plate of rojak, toast one pair of you tiao (separate before toasting) and one taupok.

6. In the rojak bowl, add 1½ Tbs of prawn paste, 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp tamarind paste and 1 tsp chilli paste.

7. Using a fruit knife, slice four small pieces of lime peel into the bowl.

8. Using a strainer, squeeze the lime into the bowl. Discard the lime seeds.

9. Slice a little of the torch ginger bulb directly into the bowl.

10. Mix well until the sugar is dissolved.

11. Add 25g of bean sprouts and 25g of kangkong. Mix well.

12. Slice some bang kwang, green mango, water apple and cucumber, and add to the bowl with some pineapple. Mix well.

13. Cut 1 ½ you tiao into 3cm pieces. Add to the bowl.

14. Cut taupok into nine pieces. Add to the bowl. Toss.

15. Cut half a century egg into small pieces and add to bowl. Mix well.

16. Garnish with 2 Tbs of crushed peanut.

17. Serve immediately.

Serves four to five

•Follow Hedy Khoo on Instagram @hedchefhedykhoo, and Straits Times Food on Instagram and Facebook @straitstimesfood

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2021, with the headline 'Toss your own rojak'. Subscribe