Rojak is a Malay word which means a fruit and raw vegetable salad, which is mixed with sauce. In my hometown in Kuala Belait, my favourite hawker sells rojak, laksa, and chicken rice. I tried asking a former classmate for her family’s hawker stall Chinese style rojak recipe to no success. I have been missing home lately, so I have been recreating dishes that remind me of home, using ingredients that I can get here. I couldn’t find fresh cuttlefish (sotong), so I used frozen cuttlefish balls. Cuttlefish balls are more kid-friendly anyway. (Kids normally would trust food that is round in shape; Art at least gave it a lick.)
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Will kids eat this?
It is sweet, tangy and mildly spicy. Art and Chip ate cucumbers, pineapples and tried a few fried tofu. I remember loving rojak as a kid. I was pretty excited when I got the taste of the sauce right.
The most important ingredient, besides Mang Kuang (jicama), is the sauce. Traditionally calamansi is used; I can’t find calamansi in Edmonton, so I used lime. Zesting the lime gives it extra flavour and releases natural oils into the rojak sauce. Can’t find the exact ingredient? Find a close substitute. If you can’t find Tean’s Gourmet Crispy Prawn Chilli, same amount or less of dried chilli paste would work. I really like using the crispy prawn chilli as I found it gave the right amount of heat. My family doesn’t like overly spicy. So if you love spicy, increase the intensity by adding 1 to 2 tbsp more.
For the shrimp paste, I used sauteed shrimp paste (also known as belacan). I don’t recommend making it from scratch! It’s easier to buy it in a jar. After all, it is easy to make rojak. If you can buy rojak sauce in a jar, you can skip making the sauce and go straight to preparing the ingredients! (Hey, I am using canned pineapples for this recipe. It is okay to take shortcuts, sometimes.)
Fruit and Vegetables
I had to ask my mom and brother to refresh my memory of what goes into rojak. They both still live in Brunei. My mom said the main ingredient is Mang Kuang (jicama). Peel it and slice, she said. There are also cucumbers, pineapples, crispy fried tofu, and sotong (cuttlefish). Rojak is also often topped with crushed roasted peanuts.
If you have never had jicama before, it is a root vegetable that tastes almost like an apple, but not quite. It is delicious raw.
To make the tofu puffs crispy, toast it in a 375F (190C) oven for 10 minutes. Use scissors to cut into half.
Cuttlefish balls usually come frozen. If you chose to use cuttlefish balls, make sure you thaw before you start the recipe. I chose to pan fry the raw cuttlefish balls for around 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Since Rojak is a side dish, you can pair it with Char Siu & steamed rice.
My husband loves this recipe since it incorporate plentiful amounts of fruit and vegetables; the spice heat level is just right to his taste. After sending a photo of the dish to my cousin, I’ve received a request to make this for a potluck. Deal! This is so easy to make for a potluck, once it is safe to do so again.