Steamed Veggies with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Pitjil, a Javanese vegetable dish
I am not a vegetarian, but grew up eating more vegetables than meat or fish per meal and I still love my daily veggies.
One of the easiest, simplest and probably healthiest vegetable dishes I know, is the Javanese "Pitjil" (Pecel), steamed vegetables with spicy peanut sauce.
What is Pitjil?
Steamed vegetables served with spicy peanut sauce, make the otherwise bland vegetables a lot more enjoyable to eat. This virtually fat free Asian "salad" can be eaten on it's own or as a side dish.
Java is one of the Indonesian islands and to keep things simple, I'm calling this a Javanese dish because that's my family's background. Pitjil as I know it, is served in countries and homes with ties to Indonesia (The Netherlands, Suriname, etc.)
In daily Javanese cooking, vegetables are seldom mixed and this dish used to be served on special occasions such as holidays or parties. It is also sold at food stands on the side of the road and in restaurants in the countries mentioned above.
The secret weapon of this dish is the peanut sauce or peanut sambal, available in Asian stores or markets. For the best (fresh) flavor you can make your own sauce, although it takes a bit more time to prepare than the store-bought version. Making your own sauce also gives you more control over the level of spiciness (heat). Click the link for a peanut sauce recipe.
Thai peanut sauce, sweet and tangy
Voted Best Peanut Sauce by the SF Chronicle
1/2 green cabbage
1 lb green beans (haricot verts)
1/2 lb bean sprouts (fresh)
1 cup peanut sauce
1/2 tsp salt
2 ltr water
Cut the cabbage in big chunks, or 1/2 inch slices (this depends on your preference). The green beans may be fresh or frozen, cut or whole (I like mine whole). Rinse vegetables.
Boil the water with some salt, add the cabbage, stir for even cooking. When the water starts bubbling again, remove the cabbage and rinse with cold water. Follow the same procedure for the green beans and bean sprouts (dip in boiling water for 3 minutes), cooking each separately.
This method of cooking vegetables is called “blanching” and because the vegetables are not overcooked, they will maintain most of their nutrients.
Arrange the vegetables in a dish and serve with the peanut sauce on the side.
Pitjil Photo Gallery - Steamed Vegetables with Peanut SauceClick thumbnail to view full-size
Fresh vs. Frozen Vegetables
Which is healthier? Market Fresh or Frozen vegetables?
Want to know more about Peanut Sauce?
I can write a whole lens about peanut sauce, but I'm sharing my favorite links instead.
Food processors - To make your own peanut sauce
I have used lots of Black & Decker kitchen appliances. They're good and affordable.
Share with us how you used peanut sauce on your food