Sayur Asem

We made this traditional West Javanese soup recipe the other day, and it’s so easy and quick.  The only trick is to find the ingredients. The name means "sour vegetables."

(Please excuse the formatting.  Typepad has changed its interface and we haven’t figured out how to do single-spacing yet.)

4 cups chicken or beef stock;        1/4 cup tamarind water;             1 tsp. palm sugar;          7 shallots;           chopped 3 cloves garlic;           chopped 1 inch galangal, peeled;                 3 chilies, chopped;           10 melinjo fruits, cut in half;                      1 chayote squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice;                      1 cup halved green beans;                1 large carrot, peeled and cut into rounds;                 2 ears of corn on the cob, cut into 1-inch-wide rounds;                1/4 cup unsalted peanuts;           salt to taste

Make a spice paste out of the peppers, garlic, shallots, and galangal in a food processor or with a mortar and pestle. Heat stock and tamarind water to a boil. Add spice paste and all of the rest of the ingredients except for the salt, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or so until the vegetables are tender but not mushy. Add salt to taste, and serve.

NB: According to our dictionary, "melinjo fruit" means "melinjo fruit." Small Japanese eggplants are a good substitute, although we know that they must exist somewhere in the states because I (TP) had them once at a restaurant in Providence. Chayote and palm sugar can be found at a Hispanic grocery store. Tamarind pulp–for the tamarind water (see below)–and galangal can be found in most South Asian grocery stores.

NB(2): To make tamarind water, take 1 part tamarind pulp and soak in 2 parts water for 15 minutes or so. Drain the solids and it’s ready to use.