I find myself very difficult to keep my head over water these days. With the expansion that is going on at work, people are finding it hard to keep their temper intact. When things are new and those who are working are looking for their comfort zone, everything can be as far away from the zone as you can never imagine. I wish I can bake muffins everyday and distribute them to everybody at work to bring up smiles, but I couldn’t. Smile is really a rare commodity these days. I find comfort in reading some of my favorite foodblogs between meetings and yellings. Ipad is my little genie.

A couple of months ago I purchased a plot of land without considering much, just like how I do things all this time. It is a wonder how I got this far. Long story short, I now own a piece of empty land up in the mountain, two hours drive away from my work. That thought really makes me want to scream. But every time I visit the place, it gives me the feeling of warm inside. It is a beautiful place to live at. The construction is planned to start next month and again, it is almost a miracle that I got this far without buying any home furnishing or kitchenware. I often wake up with bad dreams, how I have spent all my money in home decor and ultimately ended up with a house with no walls. But with really nice and tasteful leather sofa. So far it seems like I will have a nice house with no furniture. We will see how it goes.

My head is everywhere, back and forth between work, sales deadline, production deadline, and tiles, curtains, timber floorings, and all the kitchen stuff I would love to have. It is a real torture. In the mean time, I devour a lot of design websites. They hurt my eyes with their pretty space and interior photography, but I am hooked. Skonahem is one of my favorite. I think I have fallen in love with Emma too. It is a mystery how these Scandinavian folks got such great taste in designing and how I wish I understand the language. Also, I am thankful for Zinio for the amazing e-subscription of magazines. It is simply wonderful to be able to check out all the design and architectural magazines a fraction of their cost.

With all these going on, and guests from our last China trip last weekend, I hardly find time to cook these days. So one of those really old backposts is chosen. This is one of my father’s favorite Indonesian-style salad. As with other salad, it is literally soaked with peanut sauce. The peanut sauce is quite unique and have very distinctive smell from the use of lesser galangal, or kencur. Unfortunately, this rather strange looking root herbs is not substitutable. The intensity of the nutty taste of kencur is just so overwhelming. This salad dish is usually served as main course, with fried vermicelli as side dish (recipe here). The green vegetables prepared with the sauce is blanched. Some crackers, especially the red-and-white rice crackers is a must. This street food is found everywhere in the country and famously known as pecel.

Spices for the sauce are red chilies, Thai bird’s eye chilies, shallots, garlic and kencur (lesser galangal). And some kaffir lime leaves, which seems to be missing from the plate.

Gula merah (gula melaka/ palm sugar), tamarind pulp and shrimp paste.

Of course, some fresh peanuts. Roasted peanuts can also be used. These peanuts are to be deep-fried with skin intact.

The important colorful rice cracker in red and white. These transparent sheets are to be deep-fried with hot oil, they will fluff into beautiful and light crackers.

Some fresh tofu, to be deep-fried and cut into smaller cubes.

Spinach, to be blanched.

Beansprouts, to be blanched and cucumber to be cut and sliced into thin slices.

Long beans and cassava leaves, to be blanched.

Tempeh (soybean cake), cut into slices and then deep fried. The deep-fried slices are then sliced thinly into strips.

The deep-fried items on display. Does this make the healthy twin in you wanna click away? My evil twin always makes me stay.

Fry chilies, shallot and garlic in hot oil till wilted. Set aside.

We use this giant wooden mortar and pestle to grind the fried peanuts. The skin gives it texture. It is just not the same without the skin on.

At the end of thumping. I always love my paste with big chunks of peanuts, so I don’t overdo grinding them.

Remove the peanuts from the bowl. Throw in kencur (lesser galangal).

Grinding them till fine paste.

Combine the rest of the ingredients for sauce, chilies, shallots, garlic, kaffir lime leaves.

Work on them till resemble coarse paste. Add gula merah (gula melaka or palm sugar) and tamarind pulp.

Continue grinding until all mixed well and thick and gooey paste has formed.

Toss in ground peanuts and mix well. They are ready to be used. If you are not using the paste right away, it refrigerates quite well, although the peanuts might be slightly soggy if not used right away. I love it nonetheless.

When it is ready to be served, combine one cup of pecal sauce paste and add two cups of warm water in a bowl.

Dilute the paste.

It is ready to be used!

In a separate bowl, combine all the vegetables used, including tempeh and fried tofu and pour the sauce on top of everything.

Mix everything together and serve with steamed rice or fried vermicelli (recipe here)


Vegetable Salad with Peanut Sauce, Pecel

Makes 6-8 servings


For Peanut Sauce
2 shallots
1 garlic
25 g red chilies
10 g Thai bird's eye chili
5 kaffir lime leaves
20 g kencur (or lesser galangal)
10 g tamarind pulp
1 g shrimp paste
120 g gula merah (palm sugar or gula melaka)
300 g peanuts, deep-fried
1 tsp salt
Oil for deep-frying

For Vegetable Salad
100 g red and white rice crackers, fried till fluffy
150 g tempeh, deep-fried and sliced thinly
150 g tofu, deep-fried and cut into cubes
150 g beansprouts, blanched
1 cucumber, quartered and sliced thinly
150 g long beans, cut into 3 cm length
150 g cassava leaves, boiled
Oil for deep-frying


Heat oil in a wok. Deep-fry peanuts till golden. Grind till coarse. Set aside.
Deep-fry chilies, shallots and garlic till wilted, about 2 min
Combine kaffir lime leaves, salt, kencur, chilies, shallots and garlic in a mortar and pestle. Grind to coarse paste.
Add tamarind pulp, palm sugar and shrimp paste in the mortar and pound till fine.
Add the peanuts. Mix well.
Remove the paste and keep in airtight container till serving.
To serve, add 1 cup of warm water to dilute 1 cup of peanut paste in a bowl. Pour on top of vegetables.

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27 Responses to “Vegetable Salad with Peanut Sauce, Pecel”

  1. 1

    nisha — April 20, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

    gosh i absolutely love ur step by step pics..they are beautiful…and i can image how wonderful it would have tasted

  2. 2

    Mrs Erg├╝l — April 20, 2011 @ 7:49 pm

    I love how there is so much light in all your photos! Wow! Peanut sauce salad! Very Indonesian ;)

  3. 3

    Nadia — April 20, 2011 @ 9:54 pm

    Congrats on the house and the land! I think it’s great to have your own place somewhere that’s designed by you, there you will always feel like home no matter what :) ))

    Working for somebody else is a hard thing, so my wish to you is to find your dream job one day and work for yourself.

    And the salad looks yummy as always :)

    • Jun replied: — April 21st, 2011 @ 2:01 am

      Thank you! I am so excited about it. I am actually owning my own businesses and manufacturing facilities – and I find myself to be more stressful than working for other people!

  4. 4

    mycookinghut — April 23, 2011 @ 7:49 am

    oh wow!! Looks like a wonderful plate of salad!

  5. 5

    Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets — April 24, 2011 @ 9:53 am

    What a gorgeous salad. I love peanut dressings and the step by step photo tutorial is awesome!

  6. 6

    pigpigscorner — April 25, 2011 @ 3:45 am

    The peanut sauce looks scrumptious! Take care girl!

  7. 7

    Maria @ Scandifoodie — April 25, 2011 @ 1:07 pm

    This sounds incredibly aromatic and tasty! Love the combination of tempeh and tofu too, delicious!

  8. 8

    Zoe — April 25, 2011 @ 11:38 pm

    Wow..I really love your recipes and blog posts. I actually went thru the whole 27 pages you have :) I live in Taipei and really miss the Malaysian/Singapore cuisines. Whenever I want to cook something, there’s always some ingredients that we can’t get it here. Just want to say thank you for sharing and good luck on your new mountain home. I’m sure it’s going to turn out beautiful!

  9. 9

    jenius — April 26, 2011 @ 1:38 am

    Stunning pics! Love your step by step photos too! I only discovered gado-gado a few years ago and love it, but have never thought about making it at home. Don’t think I’ve ever tasted Pecel, but your tutorial makes it look too easy not to give it a go ;)

  10. 10

    Min {Honest Vanilla} — April 27, 2011 @ 8:56 am

    Hi Jun, sorry to hear such hard times for you right now but as all things, it’ll work out perfect with the perfect kitchen you dream of in the end :) I just bought a place last year as well and when I first saw it, I just knew it was IT and without thinking I placed the deposit. It’s really the same feeling that you have when you’re there too, the serenity and peace :) So it’s good decision, don’t worry too much ;)

  11. 11

    mai — April 27, 2011 @ 6:12 pm

    Hi Jun!

    Wow, all your photos are stunning and my mouth is watering right now lol.

  12. 12

    Quay Po Cooks — April 27, 2011 @ 7:39 pm

    Jun, Thanks for sharing your father’s pecel recipe and also your effort in taking those fabulous step-by-step picture tutorial. I am sure it is all worth it when you finally move into your mountain home. You did the right thing to follow your heart.

  13. 13

    Emilia — April 28, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

    Great recipe, looks so delicious, reminds me of summer and holidays. It definitely it put a smile on my face. Hope work will get better soon and you can bake “smiley” muffins soon.

  14. 14

    Kevin (Closet Cooking) — May 2, 2011 @ 6:37 pm

    That is one really tasty looking salad!

  15. 15

    Sommer@ASpicyPerspective — May 5, 2011 @ 9:24 am

    This looks incredible! I can almost smell it through the screen. I had to stumble it right away!

  16. 16

    leela — May 5, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    what an amazing process this salad is! lovely images, cant’ wait to try this recipe.

  17. 17

    Kulsum at JourneyKitchen — May 8, 2011 @ 7:05 am

    I love the first picture and the recipe! Makes me want to go out and click some pictures myself!

  18. 18

    Lisa — May 19, 2011 @ 11:34 am

    My God, seriously, my mind is blown. I am actually salivating.

  19. 19

    Lee — January 10, 2012 @ 8:26 pm

    Those pictures are absolutely gorgeous, inspiration for the stomach as much as the eyes! Thank you for posting this – it’s a welcome taste of home from far away!

  20. 20

    Yogurt Broccoli Salad — August 22, 2012 @ 7:33 am

    [...] Vegetable Salad with Peanut Sauce – Indochine Kitchen [...]

  21. 21

    No-R — September 27, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

    I so wanna try the pecal paste, For how long Can it be kept in the refrigerator?

    • Jun replied: — September 27th, 2012 @ 9:34 pm

      Yes. The paste can be refrigerated for up to a month. It could last for a couple of months longer if freezed. I hope you tried making it.

  22. 22

    Claudia — October 1, 2013 @ 10:32 pm

    Hi, your explanation and your picture are awesome, thanks! I just got home from a 7 days trip to Surabaya and Bali. I got as a present from friends some rice crackers ( I loved them ) and a package like a brown heavy cake called sambel pecel asli Madison took Mirasa. Is it the same as you teach here but just ready to use? I loved so much the food and the people and all the places I visited, I feel lucky to have had opportunities to see such great beauty in my life!
    I will follow your blog and try to keep a little of Indonesia here in my home in Italy.

  23. 23

    Dan — July 1, 2014 @ 4:15 pm

    I love your recipes. This nearly took me back to eating pecal in a village near Siantar when I went for a wedding. Do you have any recipes for lonton sayur?

  24. 24

    Tedy Merriman — April 13, 2015 @ 3:42 am

    Love step by step of how u make it. But could not find kencur here where I am now, so I have to order it from my local Asian groceries shop. Any rempeyek kacang recipe to go wit it ? terimakasih.

    • Jun replied: — June 12th, 2015 @ 9:33 pm

      I have a rempeyek recipe somewhere in the blog .. please feel free to browse. Thanks again!

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