Preparation / Directions:
The term "Straits Chinese" refers to the Chinese descendants in Penang of the original Chinese settlers, many of whom took Malay wives. Although the origins and traditions of the food are Chinese, the styles of cooking and many of the ingredients are definitely Malaysian. This salad, which is filling, flavorful, and very satisfying, contains no meat and is, therefore, eminently suited to vegetarian diets, being well balanced nutritionally.
SAUCE Crush the peanuts, using either a rolling pin or a large mortar and pestle. Place the peanuts, together with the rest of the ingredients, in a food processor or blender and process to a smooth sauce. Set aside.
VEGETABLES 1 rectangle of bean curd (tofu), pressed in a colander until firm and cut into 1 inch cubes 2 medium potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled 6 eggs 8 string beans, ends removed, cut on a diagonal into 2 inch lengths 1 cup finely shredded whit cabbage 2 3 large zucchini, ends removed, cut into 1 inch thick disks 2 cups of tightly packed watercress, washed, drained, and lower stems removed 1 cup vegetable oil While the bean curd is pressing, set the potatoes on to boil. In another saucepan, hard cook the eggs.
When the eggs are ready, immediately plunge them into iced water. Empty the egg saucepan and refill it with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Put the string beans in a small sieve or strainer and immerse them in the boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove and set them aside. Refill the sieve with the cabbage and blanch it for 2 minutes. Blanch the zucchini for 3 minutes.
Finally, immerse the watercress for 1 minutes. Set all the vegetables aside to cool. Shell the eggs and cut them in half. Drain the potatoes and set them aside to cool. Pour the vegetable oil into a small saucepan and set it over high heat. Remove the rectangle of bean curd from its makeshift press, mop it with paper towels to remove any residual moisture, and cut it into 1 inch cubes.
When the oil is up to deep frying temperature (375F) fry the bean curd until the exterior of the cubes forms a crisp, golden brown skin. Drain and set it aside on paper towels. Peel the potatoes and slice them into disks,1/4 inch thick. On a large platter, arrange the ingredients in separate mounds. Pour the sauce over and serve.
Makes 8 servings
**Every part of this dish can be made in advance. It can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold.
Origin: Cookbook Digest, Nov/Dec 1991