Every Sunday, I write down a possible menu for the coming week. Back in the days when I had to be at work M-F, 8-5 kinda hours, I stick to the list 80% of the time. Oh wait, it was also days when there weren't many 'food related' eye-candies along the way from work/gym/et cetera to home. And it'd involve me going back to the car, drive to grocery store - if I were to spring out random menu everyday.
Since we moved up here, life (at least, eating life) changes. Fresh produces, farmers market, butcher, all these local stores lining up around neighborhood. I still write up weekly menu, it helps me to stay organize, but it's going on 50% rate nowadays. There is always something catching my eyes, whatever that is, spices, produce, herbs, and I'd just pick them up and figure out what to do with it.
Corn is everywhere..EVERYWHERE!! I don't really like corn as is. I like it when it's mixed to something else. So, I grab 8 ears for $2. Not sure what I am gonna do with it. Corn muffin, corn salsa, corn pancake, corn soup....So anyway, here goes tamarind based vegetable soup/ stew. It's somewhere between soup, stew, or simply 'vegetable dish'?! Sayur Asam, which word to word translation will make it to 'Tart/Sour Vegetable' - the title doesn't do justice to the dish.
It's slightly sweet, tangy, spicy and hot (optional, but anything we eat usually involve heat) :) Very refreshing type of dish. It's very traditional. Very homey and basic. Amount/ variety of vegetables should be whatever suits personal liking. The only thing that I wish I could find is melinjo/belinjo - have been on the hunt for these, but haven't come across it yet.
- 1 corn cut to 1 - 1 1/2" thick
- 1 small chayote, cut
- handful of long beans, cut to 1 1/2" long
- handful of cabbage, cut to chunks
- 1/2 cup of raw peanuts
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 stalk lemongrass, whacked
- 2 1/2 cups water (I use boxed vegetable broth, but water is completely fine)
- 1 tbsp tamarind paste, dissolved in 2 tbsp of warm water
Grind to paste:
- 3-4 candlenuts
- 2-5 red chillies (depending on personal taste or tolerance to heat)
- 5 shallots
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp shrimp paste (optional, and I have been told that if it comes to it, one can use few dash of fish sauce as substitute. They both stink :D Never tried it yet though)
- Heat 1 tbsp of oil in the pot. Toss in spice paste, fry for a minute or two. Add in lemongrass stalk, bay leaf and tamarind water. Let it come to quick boil.
- Pour in water/broth. Let it come to boil. Toss in all vegetables. Turn heat to low-medium.
- Cover and let it cook for about 40 minutes.