Serunding and Lontong for Sayur Lodeh

The more I cook Asian food, the more similarities I see across cultures. Last year I learnt about a Filipino dish called Piaparan, where chicken is simmered in a turmeric broth and coated in fragrant, spiced grated coconut. It was excellent, and making serunding reminded me of that dish. There are multiple variations of serunding, from the ones made with beef to the ones with dried shrimp. This version that I’m sharing is entirely vegan and is a flavour-packed condiment that you top sayur lodeh with. To provide a carbohydrate element to sayur lodeh, some lontong scented with lemongrass, pandan and banana leaves! Sayur lodeh is a great dish on its own, but adding some serunding, lontong and sambal (or this) is the real icing on the cake as Hairil puts it.

Serunding

Rempah:

4 chillies, deseeded, stems removed, cut roughly

1 1/2 onions, peeled and cut roughly

4 garlic cloves

4cm length turmeric

4cm length galangal

1/2 tbsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cumin

300g fresh grated coconut

55g oil

1 stalk lemongrass

3 kaffir lime leaves

Tamarind pulp to taste, about 1 tablespoon

Gula melaka to taste, about 2 tablespoons

Salt to taste, about ¾ teaspoon

Grind the rempah ingredients until smooth in a blender and set aside. Place the coconut in a large dry pan. Toast on low heat until dry and you begin to see light golden patches, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. In a clean wok or large pan, heat the oil with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. When the oil begins to sizzle, add the rempah. Fry until fragrant on low heat, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in the tamarind pulp and add the toasted coconut, gula melaka and salt. Stir to combine well – the mixture should be evenly coloured and coated with the rempah. Taste and adjust seasoning – it should taste sweet and savoury.

Lontong

Makes 4 logs

300g rice, rinsed and drained

800g water

3 pandan leaves, knotted

1 lemongrass, cut into lengths

1 teaspoon salt

4-8 10″ squares banana leaves

Combine the rice, water, pandan and lemongrass in a ricecooker bowl and cook as per normal. Remove the pandan and lemongrass when the rice is cooked – it should resemble a thick porridge. Mash the rice with a potato masher, spoon or spatula. then transfer onto a plate to cool.

When completely cool, divide the rice into 4 and form each into a thick sausage with damp hands. Blanch the banana leaves in boiling water and wipe dry with a kitchen towel. Place the rice logs on the banana leaves and roll up. Fold up both sides and secure with a toothpick like you would for rempah udang. You can use two banana leaves for each rice logs as a precaution against the leaves from splitting open during the cooking process.

Place the logs in a large pot and fill the pot with enough water to submerge the logs completely. Bring to a boil, then simmer covered for an hour. If you’d like the texture of the lontong to feel more dense, boil for up to 3 hours. Remove from the pot when the lontong is done cooking. The logs will feel strangely soft, but it will firm as it cools. Chill overnight in the fridge before unwrapping and slicing with a wet knife.

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Author:

Pamelia Chia is a Singaporean chef and the author of the bestselling cookbook ‘Wet Market to Table’. After graduating with an Honor’s degree in Food Science and Technology from the National University of Singapore in 2014, she decided to trade a food scientist’s lab coat in for chef whites. She has since been working in restaurants in Singapore and Melbourne, including Candlenut and Carlton Wine Room. Her deepest interest being the preservation and celebration of Singaporean food heritage and culture, she started Singapore Noodles in 2020 as a platform to share about Singaporean food to a global audience. Find her on Instagram @pameliachia.

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