Sayur Lemak Serani is a light-ish coconut based curry of the Eurasian persuasion, Serani being the Malay word for Eurasian.
Sayur = Vegetables, Lemak = Cream (the coconut milk).
If truth be told, the Malays have their own version, as do the Nyonyas. For more on the Nyonya culture, go to the Singapore and Malaysia page. Sayur Lemak is also known as Sayur Lodeh or Masak Lodeh and has its origins in Indonesia, particularly, Java, where quite often it is made with jackfruit.
This Sayur Lemak Serani is lighter than the Malay & Nyonya version, it uses slightly less coconut milk than is popular and although carrots, beans & cabbage are the standard vegetables used, the dish can be enhanced by adding aubergines, cauliflower, tofu & even seafood and/or chicken.
A very simple recipe, it’s just a case of pounding the paste ingredients, chopping the vegetables & 15 minutes or so later, you’re done. Traditionally served with plain boiled rice.
Cutting the vegetables to a fairly similar size will ensure even cooking & easier eating, something my granny harped on for years but I didn’t always listen!
Ingredients for Sayur Lemak Serani (serves 4-6)
2 medium onions
1 tsp ground turmeric
5-10 dried chillies, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes (or 2 fresh red)
2 heaped tbsp dried shrimp (udang kering), soaked in hot water for 15 minutes
1 tbsp shrimp paste (belacan)
2 stalks lemongrass, bottom half, sliced for easier pounding
half inch galangal
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 handfuls white cabbage, sliced
1 large carrot, sliced
handful French beans, halved
1 small aubergine, sliced
1 handful cauliflower, sliced
200g prawns, optional
100g tofu, sliced into little cubes & fried lightly to crisp up
400ml-500ml water (depending on how much gravy you’d like)
200ml coconut milk
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
4 lime leaves
1. Pound or grind all your paste ingredients.
2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium high heat & sauté the paste for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
3. Add the vegetables, stir to coat.
4. Add the soy & fish sauces, stir.
5. Add the water and bring to a boil, as soon as that happens, add the coconut milk, lower the heat slightly and bring to a gentle simmer, giving everything a good mix but with a light touch.
6. If using the prawns, add them at this stage, cook for 2-3 minutes until they’re cooked through.
7. If using the tofu, add now, stir, let them heat through, check seasoning, add salt if necessary and serve immediately with plain boiled rice.