Grab a plate. Pile it high with an assortment of vegetables. Toss/mix with sauce. Devour. That's how I declare my love for vegetables. In Malaysia, we call it Rojak, meaning "all mixed up". In Indonesia, it's called Gado gado, meaning "mix-mix". During Chinese New Year in Malaysia and Singapore, we have Yee Sang or Lo Hei, which is a communal salad tossing ritual that symbolizes prosperity.
Whichever way salad is eaten in Southeast Asia, a common trait ensures its enjoyment: it's an explosion of different flavours and textures in the mouth. We're talking about sweet, sour, salty, soft, crunchy, crispy, nutty, creamy and sometimes spicy. This vegetable platter is my way of recreating that sensation with seasonal vegetables and fruits.
I was very excited to see fresh jicama showing up at the farmers market. Jicama's refreshingly crunchy, juicy and mildly sweet nature makes it a popular ingredient in Southeast Asian salads. And apple is a good replacement for tropical fruits such as water apple, pineapple and guava normally found in rojak which are not as readily available here.
If you love vegetables, you might want to check out The Casual Veggie. Vermilion Roots is honored to be featured together with 45+ other food bloggers in this 400-page cookbook that has 166 recipes categorised by 29 popular vegetables. I am donating part of the proceeds from sales made through Vermilion Roots to a lion conversation project in Africa. It's called 'Lights for Botswana', and it's based on the brilliant idea that something as simple as a light bulb can help protect lions.
The goal is to install motion detection lights in remote Botswana villages to deter lions from wandering into living compounds shared by humans and livestock known as "kraals" or "bomas" and thus preventing the human-lion conflicts that often lead to retaliatory killings. I encourage you to read more about this project on Nikela's website.
With only about 30,000 lions still living in the wild, the plight of the lion population is a dire one, and there's a belief that, at the current rate of decline, lions may be extinct as early as 2020. I can't imagine our world without lions, and I'd like to help keep the future bright for these big cats who share the planet with us. Click on the image above or HERE to get The Casual Veggie.
Southeast Asian Vegetable Platter with Peanut Lime Sauce
This recipe is inspired by my favorite Southeast Asian salads: Rojak from Malaysia, Gado-gado from Indonesia, and Yee Sang, a Chinese New Year treat from Malaysia and Singapore. The hallmark of a good Southeast Asian salad lies in the balance of flavors and textures, and as with many dishes from the region, the sauce plays an instrumental part in bringing it all together. This recipe can easily be doubled. Serves 4.
1 medium jicama
2 medium carrots
1 medium cucumber
1 large apple
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1 cup cilantro
2 large eggs, hard-boiled
4-inch piece of tempeh
PEANUT LIME SAUCE
1/4 cup unsalted and unsweetened smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup coconut or palm sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
Pinch of salt and pepper
1/4 cup coconut or almond milk, more if needed
1/2 cup roasted ground peanuts
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
To make peanut lime sauce, mix all ingredients, except ground peanuts and sesame seeds, in a bowl and stir with a spoon to combine. The consistency should be thick but not pasty and only slightly runny. Lightly stir in ground peanuts and sesame seeds.
Prepare the ingredients. Cut tempeh into cubes of 1/2-inch thickness and lightly grill or bake until the edges turn crispy. Set aside. Cut hard-boiled eggs into quarters and set aside.
Peel jicama, carrots, cucumber and apple, and cut them into sticks of about 1/4-inch thick and 3-inch lengthwise. (Soak apple pieces in water mixed with some lime/lemon juice to prevent browning.)
Arrange all ingredients on a plate. Serve. To eat, assemble the desired ingredients on a plate, top with sauce and enjoy!