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Ulam-Ulaman -The Malaysian Version of Salad

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

With complex flavor of earthy, spicy and hot Sambal Sauce!

Summer is almost here, and globetrotting must be done very carefully. Fortunately, we can skip all that travel and can bring world recipes right into our back yard and enjoy the same experience with minimum hassle.

Now, the salad I am going to introduce, comes from Malaysia. We call it “ulam” - combination of vegetables, or fresh leaves which can be eaten raw or after soaking in hot water. It goes well as a side dish with rice and meat.

Malaysia is tropical country and people eat ulam with rice during lunch or dinner because of its cooling effect on body. These variety of ulam can be grown in the back yard and it is also very inexpensive to buy. There are variety of ulam and to name a few; Ulam Raja, Pucuk Gajus, Daun Selom, Petai and Jering. Some common veggies to be included as ulam are tomato, cucumber, okra, lettuce, Indian eggplant, long beans.

Ulam is not simply the colorful mix of vegetables.

It takes a tasty turn with the homemade sauces (or you may call it a dip/sauce) which are typical Malaysian recipes, called ‘sambal’.

You may find variety of sambal in Malaysia, and they are eaten raw and fresh. Some types of sambal are ‘sambal belacan’, ‘sambal kelapa’ and ‘sambal tempoyak’.

Sambal Belacan

To make ‘sambal belacan’, you need red chilis, shrimp paste, tamarind juice, salt and sugar to flavor. Grind chili with a little bit of shrimp paste, mix with tamarind juice. Final touch is to flavor it with dash of salt and sugar. If you prefer it to be spicier, you may also add a pinch of bird’s eye chili (very hot kind of chili to be specific).

Sambal Kelapa

The main difference in this sambal is the use of coconut. You need a freshly grated coconut, red chilis, shrimp paste, lime juice, sliced shallot, salt and sugar. First step is to prepare ‘sambal belacan’. Then add the grated coconut, grind it a little bit more. Finally add the sliced shallot and grind it again. Mix well. ‘Sambal Kelapa’ is ready to serve!

(Photo credit: Johny Crow)

Sambal Tempoyak

This is an incredibly special type of sambal and it has a very strong flavor. The main ingredient is ‘tempoyak’ – the fermented durian which is a Malay condiment and can be easily found in Asian spice section. Durian is a tropical fruit distinguished by its large size and spiky, hard outer shell. It has a smelly, custard-like flesh with large seeds. To make this sambal, you need red chilis, tempoyak, salt and sugar to flavor. Grind the chilies well. Then mix with tempoyak. Finally, flavor with salt and sugar and wallahhh ready to eat with your ulam...

Ulam consists of dark and light green, red, orange and yellow veggies loaded with nutrients, and served with variety of sambals. In whichever part of the world you are, you may addon the veggies available there and make your own unique version 😊

You won’t regret adding this spicy recipe to your backyard summer party and it will perfectly fit in your weight management plan as well.

Aizal, Malaysia

Guest Contributor

Salutation Fitness and Wellness

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