Sayur asem / various vegetables in tamarind soup

October 15, 2011

Last week we were going to "Dapur Pasundan" restaurant to have dinner (Dapur  is Kitchen and Pasundan is Sundanese), it was without a plan, our curiosity was because at every time we have passing by the place, there are always packed with people, having either lunch or dinner.

For that reason we have been thought that it must be nice food, without further thinking we have just give it a try and decided on the feast that they might wonderfully have. I ordered a set of nasi timbel komplit (Typical Sundanese combo with companion of fluffier rice wrapped in banana leaves so that the aroma of wilted banana leaf gives fragrant to the rice) with compliment of sayur asem. 
I immediately realized that has quite timed I did not make my sayur asem until I had the compliment on that night, it just good remainder as call to mind, then I listed my sayur asem afterwards before it forgotten. 

There are few variation of sayur asem, the well-known refreshing vegetable dish that most of Indonesian be familiar with, every person would have their own favourite of Sayur asem.

My preferable Sayur asem is Jakarta versions, the variations of vegetables are just delicious, the tamarind base of the soup enrich the flavor and its really refreshing.
While my mom sayur asem version is just the simple one, she prefers a base of the soup from belimbing wuluh (bilimbi) as to deepen the sourness and it has never change until today. 
Her signature sayur asem would add-in daun waung the type of leaves (herbs) that almost extinct, the pungent flavour gives the soup distinctive charm, it’s unique. 
The great thing for her that she can plugs the leaves anytime she like because the tree has been exists since long time back just behind her house and it thrives to this day 

Sayur Asem
Various vegetables in tamarind soup /


1 litter water

For the vegetables I used: 

12pc Long beans, cut lengthily about 6cm
¼ cuts from whole cabbage, slice squares
1 chayote (labuh siam), peeled and diced
1 sweet corn, segment into 4-5
1/4cups Gnetum gnemon fruits ( buah melinjo)
1/4cup fresh raw peanuts
* you may built your own vegetables, (long-beans must included) 


1 red chilli
2 bird aye chillies
1 tomato, quatered
4 thin slices galangal
1 candle nut (kemiri/buah keras)
3 cloves garlic/slice
3 salam leaves (Indonesian bay leaf)
4 belimbing wuluh (bilimbi), halved
1 teaspoonful tamarind
pinch of shrimp paste (terasi)
salt and sugar to taste
* if belimbing wuluh (bilimbi) is not available, 
you may use tamarind only *multiple the quantity


Boil water using big stock pot, add galangal, salam leaves, 
tamarind paste and belimbing wuluh.

Meanwhile, grind the chilies,candlenuts and shrimp paste into fine paste
*using mortar and pestle (cobek).

Add-ins the paste in the boiling stock, followed by adding slice garlic, 
chayote (labu siam), fresh peanuts and Gnetum gnemon fruits ( buah melinjo).

Once they are tender, add the cabbage, long beans and tomato 
 Continue to boil over medium fire until all vegetables are cooked

Serve immediately with steamed rice 

Sayur Asem

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