Freshly back from his culinary tours across Asia, Chef Will Meyrick’s suitcase is filled with fascinating stories and precious memories of East Java – stories of his connections with talented characters who share his passion for street food, and memories of his newfound love for the province’s cuisine. This time he’s sharing the recipe of one of my favourite East Javanese dishes: tahu tek or Surabaya tofu salad.
Recipe: Surabaya tofu salad
1 piece tofu, fried & cubed
1/2 tsp white pepper powder
1 tsp salt
Lontong (rice cake)
Short bean sprouts, blanched
Oil for frying
Peanut sauce ingredients:
1 tsp salt
5 tbsp peanuts, fried
Small red chilli, as desired
2 pieces red curly chilli
2 pieces garlic whole, fried
1 tbsp prawn petis
2 tbsp sweet soya
1 tbsp palm sugar, grated
Lontong (rice cake):
To make 7 – 8 lontong
2 cups uncooked rice, washed & drained
Asian celery, finely sliced
Green shallots, finely sliced
1 tbsp peanut, crushed
Whisk salt and white pepper powder into the eggs to make the omelette mix. To make the omelette, heat oil in the pan and when it is hot, add in the egg mix and stir when the egg is starting to stick. Then fold it so it comes together like a roll.
To make the peanut sauce, blend all the ingredients together. If the paste is a little thick, add some water, this will help to get a smoother consistency.
To make the lontong, clean the banana leaves with clean damp cloth before using. Cut 7-8 pieces of 25cm width. Warm them up a little bit on an open fire briefly. This is a very important step as it helps the banana leaves to stay soft and avoids cracking.
Roll each leaf (lengthwise with the green shiny side in, so your lontong will have a slightly greenish colour) into a cylinder with a diameter of about 15cm. Secure one of the ends with toothpicks.
Put rice into each roll. The amount of rice depends on the length of your rolls, you want to put in rice to less than half the length. If you have a 20cm long roll, put less than 10cm of rice in. This will make sure you don’t have tough lontong. You will be able to make about 7-8 rolls.
Prepare a big pot, tall enough to cover the lontong all the way to the top. This is also another important step, as the lontong must be cooked “standing” inside the pot.
Do not use plastic, as it will melt!
Cook for a minimum of three hours with the lid on. Let them cool for about one hour before opening and slicing them.
For the prawn crackers, heat the vegetable oil until hot. You can test by adding in bread or rice. If it sizzles then you know you are ready to add the dried crackers.
Put the omelette on the plate, arrange the tofu cubes and lontong cubes on top of the omelette and drizzle peanut sauce over the ingredients. Garnish with bean sprouts, Asian celery, green shallots and fried shallots. I like to finish it with crushed peanuts and add the prawn cracker on the side with a slice of lime.
Read our review of Sarong Restaurant Bali: A Chef’s Tale: East Java.
This article was first published in Asia Dreams, January-February 2015.
Photo and recipe courtesy of Will Meyrick and Sarong Restaurant Bali.