Lotek (Indonesian mixed vegetable salad with fresh and spicy peanut sauce) Recipe

Lotek, an Indonesian mixed vegetable salad with a fresh and spicy peanut sauce, is similar to other Indonesian vegetable salads like Karedok, Ketoprak, Pecel and the famous Gado Gado. These salads have one thing in common: a spiced peanut dressing. The ingredients however aren’t similar. Some salads have potatoes in them, others rice vermicelli, and Lotek lontong (rice cakes).

Lotek, Indonesian vegetable salad with a spiced fresh peanut dressing

Gado Gado is made of raw and boiled (or blanched) vegetables and its peanut dressing consists of coconut milk, among other ingredients, making it quite heavy.

Karedok is a kind of raw version of Lotek. All vegetables are served and eaten raw.


Ketoprak is also made of raw and cooked vegetables, but always served with rice vermicelli.


Pecel has the most similarities to Lotek but mainly leafy greens like kangkung (water spinach), cassava leaves, and papaya leaves are used.


Lotek is made of raw and boiled (or blanched) vegetables combined with lontong (rice cakes). The peanut sauce of Lotek is a lot fresher than for example Gado Gado’s peanut sauce because coconut milk isn’t used. Furthermore, the distinctive taste of Kencur (Kaempferia galanga) gives this peanut sauce a distinctive and fresh aroma and flavor.

Kencur (or in Dutch: Kenjoer), root of the Kaempferia Galanga plant

Sundanese cuisine

Lotek originated in Sundanese cuisine. The Sundanese people are native to the Western part of Java and form Indonesia’s second most populous ethnic group. The Sundanese are from Austronesian origin and are thought to have immigrated from Taiwan, through the Philippines, to Java. Another theory suggest that the Austronesian ancestors of Sundanese people are actually from Sundaland, a massive sunken peninsula that today forms the Java Sea, Malacca and Sunda straits, and the islands between them.

Sundaland, the massive sunken continent from the last ice age

Nowadays, Sundanese cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines in Indonesia and can be found in most cities around the archipelago. Sundanese cuisine is characterized by its freshness, use of raw (or blanced) vegetables, and peanut sauces. Steamed rice is of course a staple food of Sundanese cuisine, and next to vegetables, meat and fish are served as side dishes. A popular cooking method is ‘pepes’, food combined with a spice paste (bumbu) and wrapped in banana leaf before it’s cooked, grilled or steamed. Check out my recipe of Ikan Pepesan, cod with a fresh spice paste steamed in banana leaf, absolutely delicious, fresh and healthy!


How to make Lotek

The lontong rice cubes take longest to prepare so you should start with them. Every Asian supermarket sells lontong rice cubes packages nowadays. One package is more than enough to serve 4 people. Add the bag of lontong rice to a pan with plenty of boiling water and cook with the lid on the pan for 18 minutes. Take the pan of the heat and keep the lontong bag in the heated water for another hour. Remove lontong bag from the pan, let it cool and put in the fridge for at least 30 - 60 minutes. Then cut the lontong into cubes of 1.5 x 1.5 cm.


Then prepare the vegetables. Boil green beans in salted water for 5 minutes until al dente. Remove the hard core from the pointed cabbage, halve, and cut into thin strips. Add pointed cabbage strips to the pan with the green beans and boil for 60 seconds. Remove green beans and pointed cabbage from the pan and rinse with cold water, set aside. Add (water) spinach to the pan with boiling water and blanch briefly, set aside. Pour boiling water over the bean sprouts and set aside. Halve the cucumber lengthwise and remove the seeds.


Now prepare the (cold) peanut sauce. Roast the raw peanuts in a dry frying pan for 5 minutes until browned. Roughly chop garlic cloves, chilies and lime leaves (remove veins first!). Add to a food processor with roasted peanuts, sambal (kecap) chili paste, peeled kencur (kaempferia galanga), tamarind, lime juice, palm sugar, salt and oil and grind until a smooth paste forms. Add 100 ml water and mix well.

Lotek's distinctive peanut sauce with kencur (kaempferia galanga)

Mix vegetables with lontong rice cubes in a large bowl and garnish with crumbled prawn crackers and fried onions. Serve the cold peanut sauce separately in a bowl.


Lotek, Indonesian vegetable salad with a spiced fresh peanut dressing with kencur

Ingredients for 4 people

For the mixed vegetables:

  • 500 gr/ 1.1 lbs. green beans, halved

  • Half a pointed cabbage, halved and cut into thin strips

  • 100 gr/ 3.5 oz. (mung) bean sprouts

  • 300 gr/ 10.5 oz. water spinach (kangkung), or substitute with regular spinach

  • 1 bag of lontong rice, cubed

  • 1 cucumber

For the peanut sauce:

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 3 large red (Spanish) chilies, optional 1 Thai bird's eye chili (cabe rawit) for extra heat

  • 1 tablespoon sambal (kecap) chili paste

  • 3 tablespoons raw peanuts

  • 3 cm/ 1.1 inch fresh kencur (Kaempferia galanga), or 1 tablespoon ground kencur

  • 3 Kaffir lime leaves (daun djeruk purut)

  • 2 tablespoons tamarind

  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar (gula djawa)

  • 0,5 tablespoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon oil (coconut, peanut, sunflower)

  • 100 ml/ 3.4 fl. oz. water

For garnish:

  • Fried onions or shallots

  • Prawn crackers (krupuk), crumbled

Instructions

  • First, prepare the lontong rice. Add the bag of lontong rice to a pan with plenty of boiling water and cook with the lid on the pan for 18 minutes. Take the pan of the heat and keep the lontong bag in the heated water for another hour. Remove lontong bag from the pan, let it cool and put in the fridge for at least 30 - 60 minutes. Then cut the lontong into cubes of 1.5 x 1.5 cm.

  • Then prepare the vegetables. Boil green beans in salted water for 5 minutes until al dente. Remove the hard core from the pointed cabbage, halve, and cut into thin strips. Add pointed cabbage strips to the pan with the green beans and boil for 60 seconds. Remove green beans and pointed cabbage from the pan and rinse with cold water, set aside. Add (water) spinach to the pan with boiling water and blanch briefly, set aside. Pour boiling water over the bean sprouts and set aside. Halve the cucumber lengthwise and remove the seeds.

  • Now prepare the (cold) peanut sauce. Roast the raw peanuts in a dry frying pan for 5 minutes until browned. Roughly chop garlic cloves, chilies and lime leaves (remove the veins!). Add to a food processor with roasted peanuts, sambal (kecap) chili paste, peeled kencur, tamarind, lime juice, palm sugar, salt and oil and grind until a smooth paste forms. Add 100 ml water and mix well.

  • Mix vegetables with lontong rice cubes in a large bowl and garnish with crumbled prawn crackers and fried onions. Serve the cold peanut sauce separately in a bowl.

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