This is a light and refreshing salad popular in many parts of Indonesia.
- One-quarter 3 ½-pound cabbage, cored and sliced thinly
- 2 cup chopped green beans or Chinese long beans (1-inch lengths)
- 1 pound bean sprouts
- 1 mirliton (chayote squash), peeled, cored and julienned
- 2 cup spinach or Chinese kangkung (optional)
- 1 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
- 2 tablespoon dark brown or palm sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 teaspoon sambal oelek or 1 red chile pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 teaspoon fermented shrimp paste (optional)*
- 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced into half-discs (optional)
- Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot over high heat.
- Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl.
- Blanch the vegetables for these listed times, immediately plunging each vegetable into the ice bath afterward and then draining: cabbage, until crisp tender, about 7 minutes; green beans, until crisp tender, about 2 minutes; bean sprouts, until cooked through, about 10 minutes; mirliton, until soft, about 3 minutes; spinach, if using, until just wilted, about 30 seconds.
- Meanwhile, prepare the dressing. Combine the peanuts and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined. With the machine running, gradually add the water until slightly grainy while still runny. It should not turn creamy like peanut butter; there should still be some texture. **
- Blend in the sambal oelek or chile pepper and fermented shrimp paste, if using.
- Once the vegetables are done, chill the vegetables in the refrigerator first, if desired
- Bunch the cabbage up and squeeze out as much moisture as possible.
- Then, combine it in a large bowl with the other vegetables and cucumber, if using, and gently toss by hand together with the dressing. Serve immediately.
- Fermented shrimp paste is sold in Asian grocery stores and can usually be found in the same aisle as the soy sauce. It is sold in two varieties: just the paste and the paste in soybean oil (more common). The latter is perfectly fine; just make sure to get mostly paste and not too much oil when spooning it into the dressing.
- The "dressing" should be thick. I put "dressing" in quotes because it will not resemble a dressing in the sense most cooks are expecting. In all honesty, it will look more like a thick hummus or dip. This is because these vegetables contain a lot of retained water and will thin the dressing out to the proper consistency.