When your mommy was a kid, Grandpa took us often to Rendezvous Restaurant in Singapore, a nasi padang restaurant where steamed white rice would cbe served with a buffet of Sumatran dishes like korma (a light yellow coconutty chicken curry), sambal prawns and sayur lodeh, a mild vegetable curry. At the end of the meal, I would always ask for chendol (a coconut milk based dessert with a kinds of delightful treasures in it like red beans, green grass jelly and palm sugar). I would have a very round tummy afterwards!
After seventy years, Rendezvous Restaurant is still around, a testimony to its fine cooking. The location has evolved from a colonial coffee shop where British troops liked to gather to a restaurant and now a hotel! The restaurant still exists, which means that I get to pass on this taste tradition to you.
This is mommy’s recipe for sayur lodeh. I hope it will help you remember that a small part of your heritage lies in Singapore, my American children.
by Evelyn Liau
1/2 lb turnip
12 oz green beans
1/2 head of cabbage
4 oz shallots (about 3 big shallots), peeled
1/2 thumb sized tumeric, peeled
2 tbsp dried chilli paste (optional)
2 tsp belacan (shrimp paste)
1 can coconut milk
3 tbsp oil
3 tbsp dried shrimp, finely chopped
2 tsp salt
2 chicken stock cubes
2 stalks lemongrass, cut into 2 inch segments and lightly bashed with the butt of your knife
1 thumb-sized galangal, peeled and lightly bashed with the butt of your knife
6 pcs fried tofu puffs
A. Prep the veggies. Peel and cut the turnip into strips about 2 inches by 1/2 inch. Cut the green beans into 2 inch segments. Slice the cabbage into moderate sized pieces.
B. Grind the ingredients together into a fine paste. This is your rempah (curry base).
C. Mix the can of coconut milk with 6 1/3 cups of water.
D. In a 5 quart pot, heat the oil and fry the dried shrimp until fragrant. Add the rempah (B) and fry until fragrant. Add half of (C).
E. Add all the ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the prepped vegetables (A). Cook for another 10 minutes.
F. Add the tofu puffs and the remaining coconut milk. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Served on one of our Meatless Mondays with steamed white jasmine rice.
*Macadamia nuts are a good substitute for candlenuts.