Rojak: Malaysian Fruit and Vegetable Salad

Rojak is a quintessential Malaysian salad that embodies the essence of the country’s culinary diversity. This eclectic dish is a riot of flavors and textures, combining the crunch of fresh vegetables with the sweetness of tropical fruits, all tossed in a piquant dressing that is sweet, spicy, and sour in equal measure. The word ‘rojak’ literally means ‘mixture’ in Malay, and this dish is indeed a harmonious mix of contrasting elements. It’s a common street food in Malaysia, often customized by vendors to include a variety of ingredients, making each Rojak experience unique. This salad is not just a refreshing treat on a hot day but also a vibrant celebration of Malaysia’s melting pot of cultures.

Rojak: Malaysian Fruit and Vegetable Salad


  • 1 cucumber, julienned
  • 1 green mango, julienned
  • 1/2 pineapple, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 firm tofu (tau kwa), cut into cubes and fried
  • 1/2 jicama (sengkuang), julienned
  • 100g bean sprouts, blanched
  • 100g water spinach (kangkung), blanched
  • For the dressing:
  • 1/4 cup tamarind paste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar (Gula Melaka)
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste (belacan), toasted
  • 2 red chilies, deseeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons roasted peanuts, crushed
  • Salt, to taste

Cooking Steps

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the julienned cucumber, green mango, pineapple pieces, fried tofu cubes, jicama, blanched bean sprouts, and water spinach.
  • Prepare the dressing by dissolving the tamarind paste in water to create a tamarind juice. Strain to remove any seeds or fibers.
  • In a small saucepan, combine the tamarind juice, palm sugar, toasted shrimp paste, and minced red chilies. Heat the mixture over a low flame, stirring constantly until the palm sugar has dissolved and the dressing has thickened slightly.
  • Allow the dressing to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, taste and adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary.
  • Pour the dressing over the prepared fruits and vegetables in the mixing bowl. Toss well to ensure everything is evenly coated.
  • Sprinkle the crushed roasted peanuts over the top of the salad for added crunch and flavor.
  • Serve the Rojak immediately, enjoying the burst of flavors and textures.

Rojak is not only a burst of flavors but also a powerhouse of nutrition. This salad is packed with vitamins and antioxidants from the fresh fruits and vegetables, while the tofu adds a source of plant-based protein. When selecting ingredients for Rojak, freshness is key. Choose fruits that are ripe yet firm to ensure they can stand up to the tossing and mingling with the dressing. For the vegetables, look for a crisp texture, bright color, and a clean, fresh smell. The dressing’s balance of sweet, tangy, and spicy can be adjusted to personal taste, making Rojak a versatile dish that can cater to any palate. It’s a testament to Malaysia’s ability to bring together diverse ingredients to create a dish that is as delicious as it is wholesome.

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