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.