Rojak salad is an Indonesian, Malay and Singaporean mainstay that to me always felt like a dish you’d serve at a retro dinner party. It’s often studded with tropical fruit, such as pineapple, packed with deep-fried dough and tofu, and covered in a sweet, syrupy tamarind sauce. It was, therefore, a dish I ate only on occasion – or at least it was until I stumbled across Claire Thomson’s version in her latest book, New Kitchen Basics. This fresh, light, flavourful and easy take on rojak had me making it a couple of times in one week. This is my slightly adapted version, using avocado and apple. It is sour, hot and sweet, but not too sweet. It’s a keeper – and a new kitchen favourite.
Rojak salad with avocado, tofu and tamarind
Prep 20 min
Cook 8 min
2 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tsp vegan sambal oelek, or to taste – I like the Lucullus brand
1 tbsp brown rice syrup
3 tbsp light soy sauce
1 x 280g pack extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into cubes
¼ white cabbage, finely shredded (150g net)
½ cucumber, deseeded and cut into thin slices
100g baby leaf spinach
2 Braeburn apples, cut into 2mm slices
2 avocados, stoned and cut into wedges (250g net)
1 handful fresh mint leaves, torn from about 4 sprigs
100g peanuts roasted, salted and ground
Lime wedges, to serve
First, make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk the tamarind paste, sambal oelek and rice syrup with two tablespoons of the soy and a tablespoon of oil. Taste the dressing, making sure you’re happy with the balance of heat, sour, sweet and salt, and adjust as required.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and, when hot, fry the tofu cubes for six to eight minutes, turning them with tongs, until golden brown all over, then add the remaining tablespoon of soy, take off the heat and tip into a serving bowl.
Add the cabbage, cucumber, spinach, apple, avocado wedges, mint leaves and half the peanuts to the bowl, then toss with your hands to wilt the spinach and mash the avocado a little. Add about six tablespoons of the dressing, mix again, then taste and add more dressing if need be. Garnish with the remaining peanuts and serve with a lime wedge on the side.