Nyonya X’mas Salad (Spicy Cucumber Tomato Salad)

Xmas Salad

This is my spin on my dad’s in law’s recipe for a spicy cucumber salad. He is not too sure about the ethnicity of the dish but the flavors are very Nyonya (Peranakan). So I am just going to claim this is a nyonya dish. Its a X’mas salad with bright red and green colors. Very fitting for the festive period!

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

  • 4 Japanese Cucumbers
  • 2 cups of cherry tomatoes
  • 50g of dried shrimp
  • 20g of dried scallops (optional)
  • 1.5 sticks of lemongrass
  • 1 chili padi
  • Blachan powder
  • Fish sauce
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Ginger powder

Getting it Done!

  1. Dice the cucumbers and tomatoes then set aside in the fridge
  2. Rinse the dried shrimp and scallops, separately, under running tap water in a colander for a few second before setting aside
  3. Using a pastel and mortar, pound the lemongrass (cut into small chunks first), the chilli padi (remove the seeds unless you really want to amp up the heat) and the dried shrimp
  4. Pound it until the mixture is dessicated (as fine as possible, probably takes about 10 minutes of muscle power)
  5. Over medium heat, into a wok, or any pan, add a small drizzle of oil. When the oil starts to smoke, add the pounded mixture, 1.5 teaspoon of blachan powder, and fry until it is dry and extremely fragrant before setting aside
  6. Into a medium bowl, add a quarter cup of vinegar, 3 pinches of sugar, a few dashes of fish sauce and a pinch of ginger powder before whisking to combine
  7. If time permits, add the sauce and the shrimp mixture to the cucumbers and tomatoes for about an hour before serving to really incorporate the flavors
  8. This is optional, but its a fun and yummy topping. Use your hands to break the dried scallops into 1/2s or 1/3s
  9. Over medium heat, in a wok or any pan, add 4-5cm of any vegetable oil
  10. When a wooden chopstick bubbles rapidly as you insert into the oil, it is hot enough
  11. Add the scallops into the oil and fry for about 60-90 seconds, keep stirring
  12. Remove, place on paper towel to drain excess oil, and set aside
  13. Use as a flavor packed topping when ready to serve
  14. Serve with Tacos but make sure you get unsalted ones or those that are very lightly salted
  15. Done!
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