Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Vegetables and Tofu Curry Javanese Style (Sayur Lodeh)

When I was in college, my sister and stayed in a rented house with a bunch of other students from many different islands in Indonesia. The house had communal large kitchen with several stoves in it. Don't even imagine a stove like what we have now days, it was one of those kerosine stove ha ... ha ... ha. They might still use this kind of stove in the remote villages, not sure though, because most my family in Bali has portable propane stove (look like these), when the propane tank empty, you either call the store to deliver or just go and buy it your self. That's quite an upgrade huh?. Anyway, we took turn to cook, always got excited to taste food from other island. One thing that was very often appearing at the kitchen table was this "sayur lodeh". Sayur means vegetable, but I had no idea what lodeh means. In Java, they called this dish "Jangan Lodeh", Jangan simply means vegetable. Each household has their own version of this dish, for most, tempeh and tofu are almost always included, along with eggplant and Chinese longbean. Carrots and zucchini are never used to make this dish. Of course there is no rule on how to make it, basically you can add any kind of your favorite vegetables. If you have Chinese or Japanese eggplant, you can just simply add it to the recipe.

Note that I put 5 red jalapeno in this recipe, please don't worry, the dish won't be spicy. But, you really need to take out the seeds and the white membrane that the seeds attach to it. Just make sure that no trace of the white membrane still visible. The pepper will give the curry more delicious red looking without the spiciness, and making it more appetizing.

Vegetables and Tofu Curry, Javanese Style (Sayur Lodeh)

3 cups Chinese long bean, or green bean

3 large carrots, sliced

2 large zucchinis, sliced

4 cubed (1 package) lightly fried tofu, cubed *

2 large shallots

4 cloves garlic

5 red jalapeno, seeded and discard the white membranes

5 ripe roma tomato, chopped

2 stalks fresh lemongrass, white part only, chopped

3 whole kemiri nuts, chopped

1 tsp dry-toasted shrimp paste

1 slice (about ¼ inch thick) galangga, lightly bruised

2 tbs vegetable oil

2 cup coconut milk

½ cup water, optional (depending how thick you want your curry)

2 tbs fish sauce

1 tsp salt, optional

Using a food processor make a smooth spice paste by grinding together the shallots, garlic, jalapeno, tomatoes, lemongrass, kemiri nuts, and toasted shrimp paste. Transfer to a large pot, add the galangga, and vegetable oil, fry on a medium heat for 3 minutes or until the raw smell disappear. Add the Chinese long bean, and the carrots, cook until the carrots are softer a litlle. Add the zucchinis and the tofu, stir well. Pour in the coconut milk, water if using, fish sauce, turn the heat to low. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes until all vegetable are soft to your liking. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve with simple steam Jasmine rice.

* Available in Asian market, otherwise you can use regular tofu that available widely in most supermarket.

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