Now Rojak is quite unlike any salad that you'll get in some fancy restaurant. Those are rabbit food. Not that I have anything against rabbit nor the food they eat for that matter. Personally, I do enjoy them occasionally (delicious little creature). But this salad is on another level, another planet altogether, it's salad on crack! The combination of tangy sweet pineapple, crunchy yam bean or bangkwang (aka jicama), fresh cucumber chunks and crispy you tiao/you char kwai or doughsticks just give the most lovely medley of textures. It is highly addictive and the dressing for this salad is packed with so much flavours that I like to lick any leftover straight off the spoon.
The magical dressing uses the unusual black shrimp paste, known as hae gor in Singapore, not to be confused with the dried shrimp paste or belacan. This sweet molasses-like sticky gunge is vital in giving the dressing it's richness. Along with the chopped peanuts, it give the Rojak sauce a distinctive aroma and makes for a fantastic dip.
Make sure you use lots of doughsticks for the Rojak, everyone love them which mean there will never be enough to go round. I made this for my recent supperclub and it went down a storm. Try it and you might just love it as much as I do.
Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
1 shop-bought You tiao / dough sticks, briefly toasted in a hot oven to crispen
200g roasted peanuts, skinned and roughly chopped
1 pineapple, cut into rough 2cm chunks
1 small yam bean / bangkwang / Jicama, peeled and cut into rough 2cm chunks
1/2 cucumber, halve lengthwise and cut into rough 2cm chunks
1 small handful of bean sprouts, lightly blanched in hot water and cooled in cold water, drained
(Note: Omit the yam bean if you can't find it. Any combination of fruits and vegetables such as unripen mango, starfruits, pear etc will work just as well too)
For the dressing:
1 tbsp Belacan / dried shrimp paste, toasted in a dry pan or hot oven
3 small red chillies, more if you like it spicy
2 tbsp Gula Melaka / palm sugar
3 tbsp Hae gor / black shrimp sauce (also known as Petis Udang)
1/2 tbsp tamarind pureé
2 tbsp kecap manis / sweet dark soy sauce
In a mortar and pestle, pound the toasted belacan, chilies and gula melaka to a soft paste before adding the black shrimp sauce, tamarind and kecap manis. Mix to combine well and set aside.
Just before serving, place all the fruits and vegetables, barred the peanuts, in a large bowl. Add the dressing and mix well. Scatter over the chopped peanuts, saving some for garnish. Spoon into individual serving dish and topped with more peanuts to finish.
Serve with some Rojak sticks (bamboo skewers) for an authentic touch.