For so many years I have been trying to cook the perfect Indonesian curry for my own palate and so many times I've failed. I know the basic ingredients but I just couldn't make it as good as the way my parents' cook made back in Indonesia. Because of that, I usually just used Indonesian curry sauce from Singapore.
I could buy the sauce from our local Asian shop before, but then the shop stopped importing it. I was desperate so I bought a batch directly from Singapore by post one time and asked my mother in law to bring them back when she went to Singapore one other time, but eventually I used them all up.
I was sad, I always think that this sauce tastes quite original and I love it. Unfortunately it was too spicy for my husband, who doesn't like spicy food despite having me as his wife and his cook for about 6 years.
That made me think, maybe the reason I've never been able to cook the right taste curry was because I tried to make it less spicy for my husband. So a few days ago I was in this mood that I had to make it right this time. I had a chow chow or chayote squash in the fridge and some tofu (I use aubergine/egg plant sometimes for this kind of curry) and I modified the basic ingredients I know.
Chow-chow (Chayote Squash) Indonesian curry
(Sayur Lodeh Labu Siam)
1 chow chow, cut into strips
2 squares of firm tofu
½ cup shrimps
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped finely
3 (fat) red chillies, deseeded and sliced (I deseeded only two of them)
6 curry leaves
½ tsp galangal powder (1 inch fresh, smashed)
½ tsp shrimp paste
1 tbsp grated palm sugar
2 cups coconut milk
Heat some oil in a hot pan, fry the onion until soft then add the garlic, chillies, galangal, curry leaves and shrimp paste, fry until fragrant. Add the shrimps and chow chow.
Pour the coconut milk into the pan and keep stirring until it simmers, then add the palm sugar, keep stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. Add the tofu.
Add some water if necessary.
Keep boiling slowly until the vegetables are soft. Season with salt.
Serve it with boiled rice.
You can add or reduce some of the ingredients until you find the right amount for you own taste. Be careful using galangal powder, if you put too much of it, it can make the dish taste bitter.
Unfortunately my husband couldn't stand the chillies, but that's okay, more for me then :-D.