Tag Archives: Asem

Sayur Asem – Vegetables in Tamarind Soup Recipe

Indonesian sayur asem – vegetables in tamarind soup.

Sayur asem or vegetables in tamarind soup is arguably Indonesia’s most popular vegetable soup.

This Sundanese soup is packed with plenty of fresh vegetables. The broth is extremely flavorful, with spiciness from chilies, sourness from tamarind and tomatoes, freshness from lemongrass, earthiness from ginger and galangal, and bold umami from terasi/belacan/shrimp paste.

This recipe has a very long list of ingredients, but I promise it will be your new favorite soup and it is going to be love at first sip!

Vegetables for Indonesian sayur asem: cabbage, kale, corn, tomato, and zucchini.

Vegetables for Indonesian sayur asem: cabbage, kale, corn, tomato, and zucchini.

What are the common vegetables in sayur asem

There is no set rule to what should and should not be included in a proper sayur asem, but the more popular vegetables you will find include cabbage, chayote, young jackfruit, snake beans, corn, tomatoes, melinjo seeds, and melinjo leaves.

If you live outside of Indonesia, finding all the above vegetables can be very daunting, if not impossible. You can use a mix of more commonly available vegetables in your country.

Since I live in the US, these are the vegetables I use whenever I cook a pot of sayur asem:

  • corn
  • cabbage
  • tomatoes
  • zucchini, to substitute chayote
  • green beans, to substitute snake beans
  • kale, to substitute melinjo leaves
  • dry red skin peanuts, to substitute melinjo nuts

Before using the peanuts for sayur asem, I boil them first in a pot cover with two inches of water for one hour to soften the peanuts.

Ingredients for Indonesian sayur asem: peanuts, shallot, garlic, ginger, red chilies, candlenuts, terasi/belacan/shrimp paste, galangal, tamarind, lemongrass, daun salam, coconut palm sugar, salt, white pepper, and turmeric.

Ingredients for Indonesian sayur asem: peanuts, shallot, garlic, ginger, red chilies, candlenuts, terasi/belacan/shrimp paste, galangal, tamarind, lemongrass, daun salam, coconut palm sugar, salt, white pepper, and turmeric.

Spices, herbs, and seasoning for sayur asem

There are a lot of spices, herbs, and seasonings that go into this soup. The list is long, but you will love the result. There is a reason why this is one of Indonesia’s most beloved vegetable soup.

1. Spice paste

First is the list of ingredients making up the spice paste, which include red chilies, shallots, garlic, candlenuts (Indonesian: kemiri), ginger, galangal, terasi/belacan/shrimp paste.

Candlenuts can be substituted with an equal amount of macadamia nuts. And terasi/belacan can be substituted with 2-3 tablespoons of fish sauce.

Use a food processor or a blender with a spice attachment to puree together all the listed ingredients into a smooth paste.

2. Other spices, herbs, and seasonings

Then we will also need lemongrass, daun salam (Indonesian bay leaves), tamarind, salt, white pepper, coconut palm sugar, and turmeric.

Daun salam (Indonesian bay leaves) are very different from regular bay leaves. It is best to omit if you don’t have these. Using regular bay leaves will give a very different flavor profile to the soup.

I use wet tamarind sold in plastic packaging. To use this, please mix the stated amount with half a cup of hot water. Stir to mix and when cool enough to handle, use fingers to massage the tamarind in the hot water to make tamarind paste/juice. Strain to remove pulps and seeds.

(1) Boil together water, spice paste (red chilies, shallot, garlic, candlenuts, finger, galangal, terasi), lemongrass, daun salam, tamarind, salt, turmeric, coconut palm sugar. (2) Add peanuts and boil. (3) Add cabbage, corn, zucchini, green beans. (4) Add kale and tomatoes.

(1) Boil together water, spice paste (red chilies, shallot, garlic, candlenuts, finger, galangal, terasi), lemongrass, daun salam, tamarind, salt, turmeric, coconut palm sugar. (2) Add peanuts and boil. (3) Add cabbage, corn, zucchini, green beans. (4) Add kale and tomatoes.

How to cook sayur asem

First, boil water in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add spice paste, lemongrass, daun salam, tamarind juice, coconut palm sugar, turmeric, salt, and white pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until fragrant.

Add boiled peanuts. Reduce heat to a medium, cover the pot, and cook for 10 minutes.

Add cabbage, corn, zucchini, and green beans. Cook, covered, for another 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

Finally, add kale and tomatoes. Cook until kale is wilted and the tomatoes are just starting to become soft, about 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat, taste test, and add more salt if needed. Serve the soup immediately with steamed white rice.

Indonesian sayur asem - vegetables in tamarind soup.

Indonesian sayur asem – vegetables in tamarind soup.

What to serve with sayur asem?

Most Indonesian restaurants offer rice meal sets on their menu. These set meals are perfect for students and working people who don’t always have the luxury to eat at home, especially during lunch hours.

If you visit Indonesia and have no idea which dishes go well together, choosing one of the many offered rice meal sets is often a great idea. Also, if you are traveling alone, set meals let you sample many different dishes in one sitting. 🙂

An Indonesian rice meal with sayur asem typically looks like this:

Indonesian sayur asem - vegetables in tamarind soup.

Indonesian sayur asem – vegetables in tamarind soup.

Other Sundanese dishes to try

Sayur asem is one of the signature dishes of the Sundanese people. Many popular Indonesian dishes come from this cuisine.

Other than sayur asem, you may have heard of dishes such as lalap, karedok (similar to gado-gado, but with the emphasis of using raw vegetables), ayam bekakak/grilled chicken, soto bandung/beef and daikon soup, and ikan bakar/grilled fish.

These are far from exhaustive, and it may take me many years to cover even just a portion of Sundanese recipes.

Sayur asem with chayote, melinjo nuts, melinjo leaves, and snake beans.

Sayur asem with chayote, melinjo nuts, melinjo leaves, and snake beans.

Untuk info lebih lanjut,
klik disini