This week in the vintage kitchen we are traveling culinary style to the exotic locale of Indonesia with a flavorful summer salad recipe that capitalizes on the best of fresh garden vegetables. The recipe, Roedjak Manis, hails from the vintage 1967 cookbook A World of Nuts by Morton Gill Clark...
and features one of the South’s most prolific crops – the peanut. Poor peanuts have gotten a bad rap in recent years due to all the nut allergy problems, but if you don’t suffer from any such malady than this recipe might just become your most favorite salad of the season.
As colorful as Indonesia’s floating marketplace in Lok Baintan Kalimantan…
this coleslaw like salad is bursting with a bright bouquet of garden goodness that not only makes it delicious in the flavor department but also pretty on the plate.
And unlike some international recipes, if your garden isn’t yielding this type of produce just yet, no worries, you can find all these ingredients easily at the farmers market or the grocery.
Before we dive into the recipe, let’s look at the place where our salad hails from…
Home to over 6,000 islands, Indonesia is an epicenter of culture and cuisine combining Chinese, Indian, European and Middle Eastern nationalities. This unique blend of heritage paired with it’s lush tropical environment provide the platform for some of the most flavorful cuisine in the world.
Morton Gill Clark, traveled around the world gathering inspiration for his nut cookbook, picking up recipes that not only were not only indigenous of the places he visited but also easily adaptable for American cooks and kitchens. As a mid-century food journalist for Gourmet Magazine and Vogue, he had a refined palette for good, clean food that was easy to prepare and interesting to play around with. His recipe for Roedjak Manis is a shining example of both. Loaded with vitamins, nutrients and healthy fats, it offers a variety of serving options – a side salad, an appetizer, a snack, a unique hors d’ouevre – it is literally a feast for your imagination and for your belly.
If your summer scrapbook doesn’t include a trip to the idyllic islands of Indonesia, don’t fret, your senses will transport you on a trip of a lifetime with this culinary kitchen adventure. Are you ready dear readers? Let’s go!
Roedjak Manis (serves 4-6)
2 sweet red peppers or 8 mini bell peppers in assorted colors, seeded
1 cup peanuts
1 tblsp. brown sugar
1 tsp anchovy paste
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/4 cups finely shredded green cabbage
1 cup finely shredded lettuce (spring salad mix, romaine, etc)
1 cup thinly sliced bamboo shoots
1/4 cup slivered scallions
1/3 cup whole toasted peanuts
1 medium cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
A quick note on ingredients: Ms. Jeannie purchased a bag of dry roasted, salted peanuts in the shell, which she then de-shelled for this recipe. If you don’t have this extra few minutes you can use a jar of already shelled peanuts. Bamboo shoots come in cans packed with water and can be found in the Asian section of the grocery.
Roughly chop the peppers. Combine peppers and peanuts in a blender and pulse until they form a creamy paste similar to hummus. Depending on the water content of your peppers you might need to add a few squeezes of lemon juice to get the appropriate consistency. After a few minutes in the blender, peanuts and peppers should look like this…
Next, add the sugar, anchovy paste and lemon juice to the pepper mixture and blend until combined. Set aside.
Thinly slice the cabbage, lettuce and bamboo shoots and toss together in a large mixing bowl.
Then add the pepper mixture, whole peanuts and scallions with the lettuce and toss. It’s easiest to use your hands for this process since the pepper mixture is thick.
Once all the ingredients are combined, set salad aside while you chop the egg and slice the cucumber. You can serve these last two ingredients either on top of the salad or on the side depending on your preference. Ms. Jeannie served her egg/cucumber on the side and put the salad in a big bowl, family-style so her dinner mates could serve themselves.
Because this salad is packed with peanut protein, you could make this a meat-free meal or it would also be delicious with simple sautéed or poached chicken breasts, carrot chips or steamed rice. Like the summer season itself, it is easy breezy in the adaptability department and transports well as a picnic component.
Find more nut-based recipes in Morton’s cookbook here. And find more around-the-world inspiration in the vintage kitchen with these previous cooking related posts.
Cheers and happy cooking!