Rujak

Rujak

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From
South East Asian Food

Rujak is a dish that figures large on the Javanese list of special foods for ritual occasions. In Java it has been traditionally served at the slametan (the ritual meal to which neighbours, friends and relatives are invited) given by a family before the birth of a first child.

There is a story behind rujak that reveals a fascinating process of culinary diffusion at work. Introduced into Malaysia by Javanese settlers at the end of the 19th century, rujak now appears in Indian and Chinese street food there, as well as in the classic Malay version.

There are two kinds of rujak: one made from the usual Indonesian salad vegetables such as water spinach (kangkung), snakebeans, cucumber, yambean, and fried beancurd, with peanuts in its sauce; the other made from sour and crisp fruit with a dramatically matched sweet, sour, salty and flavourful dressing or sauce. The one given here is of the latter variety, sought after by Indonesians as a refreshing snack.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
3-4 bird’s eye chillies, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon roasted shrimp paste
3 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
2 tablespoons tamarind water, still warm
1 teaspoon javanese sticky shrimp sauce, or petis, (optional)
3 cups vegetables, (see Note)

Method

  1. In a mortar, grind the chillies, salt and shrimp paste to a fine paste. Add the sugar and then the tamarind water and mix well with the pestle until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce is amalgamated. Add the shrimp sauce if you are using it and mix well again. Taste and adjust the flavours (it should be quite sweet). Toss as much as you want with the fruit and vegetables and allow to stand for a while before serving. Rujak is good as a snack or goes well with deep-fried, grilled or rich festive food.

Mixed crunchy fruit and salad vegetables:

  • E.g. sliced wedges of cucumber, pineapple, pawpaw, green mangoes, yambean or apple; starfruit slices, pomelo or grapefruit segments with the membrane removed
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