I crave for sambal kacang panjang (raw long beans sambal) sometimes. This often happens when I have a huge bowl of white rice on the table. Good quality rice smells fragrant. It makes me want to add a touch of strong salty taste to it. In this case, sambal kacang panjang with any type of fried fish on the side would work really well.
Sambal kacang panjang is not the typical Indonesian food to find in an Indonesian restaurant diaspora abroad. I do not think it’s because it is difficult to replicate. In fact I do not think that one should need a recipe to make it; the dish is so simple. Sambal kacang panjang is a very popular side dish on the dining table in East Java province. But it might not be the case somewhere else in the country. Perhaps this is the reason of why the sambal is not the representative of Indonesian cuisine in Indonesian restaurant abroad. Sambal kacang panjang is deemed too vernacular.
Besides, the taste combination perhaps considered too wild and peculiar to cater for the international taste buds—the salty taste of the shrimp-seasoning block (terasi), shocking-hot of chilly paddies, pungent-fresh of shallot, mixed with the rawness of finely chopped long beans.
However, it is not too difficult to find kacang panjang in Melbourne. It is available in Asian grocery stores on Victoria Street, or in a vegetable section in Victoria Market. I spotted kacang panjang sitting on a lettuce bed—among other greens in Saigon Village, Abbotsford (see the photo used as the featured image).
The above picture was taken when I visited mother in September last year–a perfect sambal kacang and fried salty fish on the side. When I took the picture, I was too focused on the sambal. Only now I realise other elements on the table–the rustic stone mortar and pestle, and the old radio (a must have thing to be available when mother cooked in the kitchen).
Mother wrote her sambal recipe for me five years a go. I still need guidance from her in cooking from time to time. She does not have an email account; I think she is still observing the communication nature in the internet environment in awe. The recipe was copied and sent via my brother in law’s email account. To be prepared, all the ingredients used here is measured by intuition. It means one needs to add a certain element, while eliminating another thing when shudder.
Half of tablespoon terasi (shrimp-seasoning block)
4 chilly paddies, 1 red chilli
5 Yardlong beans (Chinese long beans)
Half tablespoon of vegetable oil (or use the same oil from frying fish to make it better)
A dash of sugar
For the first method, put terasi, salt, sugar, and chilies, into the stone mortar and pestle them until smooth. Mix in the chopped beans into the mixture—but careful not to crush the beans. Add the shallots, nudged them gently, until flat, but not completely flattened. Lastly, poured in the warm oil to it.