I was so lucky to be able to stay and study in Bangkok for three weeks last month, and it was really a once in a lifetime opportunity, I endlessly remind myself how lucky I was to be able to learn the things that I had always dreamed of. For those who know me, you would know that I am insanely passionate about everything food related. So if I am not updating my blog for a long time, be assured that I am somewhere in my kitchen (at home or work) doing something or cooking something or baking something – or yelling at somebody in the kitchen.
I have also been told that if you do what you love for a living, you will not have to work a day of your life. That turn out to be not entirely correct – although it is true to some extend, but exhaustion would make you hate that thing you originally love. I was on the verge of hating it, until I took that break in Bangkok and I came back all refreshed.
I love Bangkok to bits. Although I have to admit that I spent not that much time sprawling around under the bridge or hot humid open air market hunting for street food – we spent time in lecture rooms almost 12 hours a day, but afterwards we always had great dinners – food courts in Bangkok malls are really good! I know. I am so ashamed. Food court? Bleah. Although they lack certain kick, they are so good. After five dinners of pork tomyam and rice with somtams, I was ready to try something else. I had mango and sticky rice every single night (okay, I am exaggerating – it’s more like eighteen nights out of the twenty nights I was there). Of course I missed my boys and girl, but when I had Thai food, I kinda forgot about them for a bit. Haha.
It was also strange to find that Bangkok has been “Japanized” in a lot of ways, as in the “depachika” would sell more Japanese inspired snacks and meals than those Thai food and snacks. I was equally obsessed about Japan and everything Japanese, I tried to stick to Thai food and snacks.
In the spirit of Thai food, this is our version of “tomyam”. This soup is always present in Indonesian style seafood restaurant. Unlike tomyam or sinagang, Indonesian version of tamarind soup is entirely vegetable based sour soup or easily called “Sayur Asam”. Sometimes people would add a bit of dried shrimps or shrimp paste for that extra punch. It has quite a bit to prep, and it is almost impossible to just make a small batch. So be prepared to be stuck with a big pot of sweet, salty, sourish and spicy vegetable soup but it does taste better after the first day. Keep in refrigerator and you can enjoy it for two more days. I personally think after the third day, the vegetables would become too mushy, unless if you don’t cook it too long to keep the vegetables in there crisp, so it would age nicely after the second day. Never tried it myself. Ours are always gone the first day. If it last till the second day, something is definitely wrong.
I think every family has their own sayur asam, tamarind vegetable soup. Our favorite sayur asam is from one of my aunties’. Nobody in our family does it as well as she does and people keep asking her for recipe. So, this is it. .
The main ingredients would be tomatoes, melinjo seeds and leaves, corn, cabbage, young corn, long beans, fresh nuts and cabbage. Spices used are galangal, lemongrass, salam leaves, red chili and candlenut. Spices used are very strong smelling, so they are countered by salt and a lot of sugar. She is using combination of castor sugar and gula melaka. The soup is incredibly fragrant and tasty!
First step is to grind spices or blend it in a blender. Add a cup of water with tomatoes, candlenut, shallots and red chili.