Sunday 11 March 2012

Trio Of Southeast Asian Street Food (Part I) - Curry Puff and Singaporean Rojak

Trio Of Southeast Asian Street Food  - (clockwise from left) 
Singapore RojakVietnamese Rice Paper Rolls and 
Malaysian/Singapore Curry Puffs

I always wonder, what are the reasons behind the current trend of restaurant doing a trio of this and a trio of that. Even on the MasterChef, you get lots of contestant that are always dishing up dishes by the trios. So I thought to give myself a bit of a challenge the other day and attempt to create a trio dish myself.

Of course, I will first have to find a common ground between all of them. Otherwise, this is just going to look like a mess on a plate. With the current growing popularity of street food happening around London, I thought it will be quite apt for me to introduce the Southeast Asian street food to the masses too.

Little did I know how hard it was going to be. Believe you me, it was strenuous, trying to multi-task, getting everything prepped and plated up promptly and on time while it is still hot was not easy. Having achieved this herculean task, I take my hat off to all the MasterChef contestants, past and present, who were able to accomplished this and dished out plates and plates of beautifully crafted and cooked dishes on time.

I have created a trio of my own take on the street snacks from the far east, food that I grew up with. Curry puff is immensely popular both in Malaysia and Singapore. It is a deep-fried crispy, puff pastry filled with curried potatoes, peas, carrots and sometimes hard boiled eggs are included, absolutely delicious. The authentic version do not usually include sweet potato, but I have used them here because I find the sweetness goes very well with the spiciness of the filling. As for Rojak, it is a fruit and vegetable salad that are commonly found on the streets of Malaysia and Singapore too. I remember that when I was young, they used be sold from the back of bikes by the street hawkers. Everyday, at around a specific time, you'll get them riding the bicycles into the villages , with a make shift cabinet attached to the back. You will hailed them down, places your order, and everything will be whipped up fresh right before you very eyes. All for the price of 1 Malaysian ringgit, that's around 20p to you.

To complete the trio, I have also made Vietnamese rice paper rolls, but I will write more about that in my next post. Stay tune for part two...(click here for part II)

For the Curry Puff (Makes 8-10)


For the filling:
1 large baking potato, boiled and mashed
1 medium sweet potato, boiled and mashed
1 medium carrot, finely diced and blanched in hot water for 1 minute
50g frozen peas, blanched in hot water for 1 minute
2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 medium onion, diced
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp good quality curry powder
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 large red chili, deseeded and finely diced
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pastry:
250g plain flour, plus more for kneading
2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
100ml water, plus more if necessary

Sunflower or vegetable oil for deep-frying


To make the filling. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When smoking, add the mustard seed and fry for 30 seconds, until they are fragrant and start to crackle. Add the onions and cook until soften, about 2-3 minutes, then add the turmeric, curry powder, garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for another minute before adding the carrot and peas. Cook for another minute. Remove from heat and add to the mashed potatoes along with the chopped coriander. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside to cool.
For the pastry, put the flour in a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the oil and water, slowly bring in the flour and mix until it all comes together to form a soft dough, adding more water if the mixture are too dry.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes until the dough is smooth.
Roll out the pasty to about 5mm thick. Cut into 10cm diameter discs using a round cutter. Put a tablespoon of the filling into the centre of the disc. Fold the pastry over to form half moon shape, moisten the joint with some water and using the teeth of a fork, make light indentations to seal the curry puff. Alternatively, you can pinch and fold the edges to form crimps to seal but this is a much easier method.

Heat up the oil in a wok or a deep fryer to 170ºC, until a breadcrumb dropped in sizzled and turns golden-brown in 30 seconds. Deep fry the curry puff, a few at a time, for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown.
Drain on a kitchen paper and serve hot.
Singapore/ Malaysian Curry Puff

For the Rojak (Serves 4)


For the salad:
Sunflower or vegetable oil for deep-frying
1 packet firm tofu, drained and dried with kitchen paper
half a cucumber, peeled and julienned or cut into fine matchsticks
1 small carrot, peeled and julienned or cut into fine matchsticks
1 large red chili, deseeded and julienned or cut into fine matchsticks
100g prepared pineapple chunks
60g mixed salad leaves of your choice (I've used frisée lettuce, wild rockets and pea shoots)
50g unsalted peanuts, roasted, skinned and roughly chopped

For the peanut sauce/dressing:
100g unsalted peanuts, roasted and skinned and ground or finely chopped
1 tbsp shrimp paste/belachan, toasted in a dry pan
2 red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp palm sugar or soft dark brown sugar
1 tbsp hae ko/petis udang (optional but does make a difference to the finished dish)
1 tbsp tamarind purée (substitute with rice vinegar if you can't find any)
3 tbsp dark soy sauce (not to be confused with the lighter version)
100ml water
1/2 tsp salt, to taste


Put all the ingredient for the sauce in a pan over medium heat. Bring to the boil and cook for 3-4 minutes  until the sugar has completely dissolved. Set aside to cool.

Heat up the oil in a wok or a deep fryer to 170ºC, until a breadcrumb dropped in sizzled and turns golden-brown in 30 seconds. Fry the tofu for 5-6 minutes, until golden brown and crispy on all sides. Drain on kitchen paper. Cut into rough 2cm cubes.

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients for the salad, part from the peas nuts, together with the tofu and the sauce together. 

To serve, divided into equal portions and plate onto individual clean plates. Scatter with the peanuts and spoon over any remaining sauce.
Singaporean Rojak


  1. When growing up, I would make sweet friend pastry puffs with my grandma. We cheated and used a dumpling press though! ;-)

  2. I use a fork...just as easy and no need to buy an additional gadget :)



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