This is a long winter and it shows no sign of abating in March. The produce section at the grocery stores is suffering from the prolonged season. Some fruits and vegetables while available are not at their best and prices are high. Most fruits are brought in from the Southern Hemisphere and they ripen in the box, affecting the taste. From what is available, apples, pears, and bananas are the best tasting and prices are more or less the same. Thank God for sweet clementines in January and February!
From my recent posts, you have probably noticed that I am thinking of warmer climate and foods. It is fun rediscovering some of my childhood favorites and introducing them to my boys. They really enjoyed the Pisang Goreng and I had to make a second batch as teenagers have healthy appetites. It is also very interesting to watch the expressions on their faces as they take the first bites. Though not every dish is always well accepted, it is definitely a joy when they ask for seconds.
I currently have a list of foods I would like to prepare should I come across the ingredients while grocery shopping. Yesterday presented me with an opportunity to recreate yet another Malaysian favorite that I have not had for a while. I was excited when I saw pineapples being sold at $2.50 each! I eyed some mangoes and jicama on the next isle and quickly made up my mind that I will try making Rojak.
Rojak is a spicy mixed fruit salad consisting mainly of pineapples, green mangoes, jicama, cucumber, and deep fried tofu. The dressing is a thick, dark sauce of chili paste, sugar, dark sweet soy sauce, and shrimp paste. Most Malaysians would agree that shrimp paste, or heh ko as it is known, is a very important ingredient in the sauce. The thought of driving downtown looking for this shrimp paste and not knowing for certain if I will find it was not how I wanted to spent my afternoon. I had to come up with an alternative.
When I make Chili Con Carne, I use chocolate in the sauce. Why not use dark chocolate for this rojak sauce? The color and consistency is right. There is only one way to find out if the taste is right and hence my version of rojak in the west! I can’t be more happy with the results. You have to give this a try.
- 2 cups pineapples, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 mango, cut into cubes
- 1 cup jicama, julienned
- 1 small cucumber, sliced into ¼ inch semi circles
- 4 deep fried tofu, pan fried to crisp it up and thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup chopped toasted peanuts
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- ½ cup extra dark chocolate chips
- 1½ to 2 tbsp Sriracha hot chili sauce, depending on taste
- 1½ tbsp tamarind soup base
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup water
To make the sauce, combine all sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook stirring until chocolate and sugar are melted and a thick smooth sauce forms. Remove and allow to cool slightly.
Place pineapples, mangoes, jicama, and cucumber in a large bowl. Pour in as much sauce as you would like. Toss to coat. Garnish with sliced tofu, chopped peanuts and sesame seeds.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 8)