Fresh crunchy salad with creamy and spicy peanut sauce with tamarind is what this Asinan Jakarta is about.
There is no exact English word that can translate the word “Asinan” (aah-see-naan).
Although I took liberty in translating the word as salad, it’s actually not the salad that you might understand.
Because you usually eat the salad as an appetiser or starter, right?
However, this Indonesian crispy salad “asinan” is eaten as a snack at any time of the day.
In fact, it’s best to have it as an afternoon snack when you already have your lunch but feel like snacking.
And if it is served as a part of a party menu, it is usually eaten after the main course.
Asinan literally derives from the word “asin”, which means salty. And it is typically vegetables or fruits that have been preserved in saltwater before serving. Hence, there are many varieties of Asinan according to their main ingredients.
The one I’m sharing here uses vegetables and a dressing made of spicy peanuts and tamarind sauce.
This simple salad with spicy peanut sauce is traditionally from the Jakarta (which used to be called Betawi in the olden days) region. Therefore, it is also known as Asinan Betawi.
It is one of the sought after street foods in the area.
The best thing about making your Asinan at home is that its ingredients are simple and easy to get.
You only need some vegetables, peanuts, chillies, tamarind, sugar and salt.
As for the vegetables, we use cabbages, beansprouts, carrots, round lettuce, and cucumber.
The lettuce we use for this salad is the leafy type of lettuce such as butterhead lettuce.
And when it comes to tamarind, you can either use the tamarind sauce in a bottle. Or you make the juice yourself by soaking a chunk of tamarind block in hot boiling water.
When the fruit goes soft, you can try to melt some of it by pressing and mixing it with a spoon. Then sieve the juice and discard the pulp and seed.
Traditionally, some people put egg noodles, tofu and preserved Choi sum as well. But it’s not necessary. Though you’re more than welcome to add them if you like.
If you decide to have noodles, you can use fresh egg noodles or dried egg noodles. If you choose the latter, boil the noodles until they are cooked but not soft or soggy. Then rinse them with cold water and set them aside until you need it.
For the tofu, you will need extra firm tofu. And you can lightly fry the tofu chunks before using or using them as they are.
This salad is so refreshing to have on a hot summer day. The crispy veggies marry well with the tangy and spicy sauce.
With simple ingredients, you can always make this crispy salad in no time.
Top tip to make the best Asinan Betawi
- Make sure your veggies are fresh and crispy.
- Saltwater helps to preserve the vegetables to stay fresh a bit longer. So do not skip this one, especially if you plan to enjoy your Asinan later.
- When it comes to the dressing sauce, trust your own taste buds. Feel free to add the spices and flavouring according to your liking. The recipe will make a mild flavour. So if you prefer spicier or tangier sauce, just add more chillies or tamarind.
- Salty, sweet, tangy and spicy are the mix of flavours you want to achieve in your sauce.
More Indonesian street food recipes
I hope now you’re tempted to make this Asinan. Especially since we are entering summer. A perfect time of the year to enjoy this crunchy veggie salad with the spicy peanut and tamarind sauce.
If you do try the recipe, would you mind sharing what you think of it in the comments below?
Last but not least, don’t forget to check my other Indonesian street food recipes that you may equally love.
- Sate Ayam: Indonesian chicken satay.
- Lamb Satay: copycat of Indonesian Sate Kambing.
- Ketoprak Jakarta: beansprouts, vermicelli and tofu salad with peanut sauce.
- Gado-gado Jakarta.
- Lontong Sayur Jakarta: hard-boiled rice with vegetable curry.
Thank you and all the best.
Asinan Jakarta – Crispy salad with peanuts and tamarind sauce
- Chopping board
- Kitchen knife
- Mixing bowls.
- Wooden spoon
- ½ small cabbage
- 2 cups beansprouts
- 1 large carrots
- ½ round lettuce
- ⅓ cucumber
- ¾ cup roasted salted peanuts, crushed and grind with pestle and mortar.
- 1 clove garlic crushed.
- 1 teaspoon dry chilli flakes or 1-2 bird’s eye red chillies grind into a paste.
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar optional.
- 1 cup water
- Noodle crackers or onion crackers kerupuk – optional.
- Slice the cabbage. Set aside.
- Cut the carrots into julienne/ matchsticks. Set aside.
- Slice the lettuce. Set aside.
- And cut the cucumber into slices. Set aside
- In a big mixing bowl, add cool boiled water. And stir in one teaspoon of salt.
- Then put all the vegetables in the bowl, i.e. cabbage, beansprouts, carrots, lettuce, and cucumber. Gently press until all the vegetables are soaked in the water.
- Leave the vegetables to soak for at least a few hours.
- In the meantime, make the dressing by mixing crushed peanuts, garlic, chili flakes/chili paste, tamarind, brown sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Pour in hot water from the kettle. Stir well and cook at medium heat until it reaches boiling point.
- Try and taste the sauce. It should taste salty, sour, sweet, and spicy.
- The challenge with making asinan is to get all these four flavours to come together. So you may have to add in a teaspoon of granulated sugar if it’s not sweet enough. Or salt if you can’t taste it. Similarly, you add more tamarind and chilli if needed. Feel free to add more each respectively if you think you need it. Although the measure that I did in this recipe has all the flavours.
- Once you’re happy with your dressing sauce, you can start making your asinan.
- Using a colander, drain the vegetables, and discard the water.
- Arrange the veggies in a serving bowl.
- Spoon the sauce over the vegetables, and mix well.
- Garnish with noodle crackers/ onion crackers if using.
- The crackers are optional. But they give more crunch to your Asinan. If you want, you can use the ready-made prawn crackers from the shop. Because I do that sometimes.
- If possible, try to use fresh chillies because they give more flavour and spicy aroma.
Nutritional info in this recipe is only estimate using online calculator. You should refer to it as a guide only. Please verify with your own data if you seek an accurate info.