Sweet, salty, pungent, spicy salad

Those of you who followed my recent Nusa Lembongan adventure will know that I fell in love with rujak (aka “rojak”), a sweet, salty, sour and spicy fruit salad that pregnant women apparently go a little nuts over.


I went more than a little nuts over it, but I don’t think it was because I was pregnant. At the most ordinary of times, I can not get enough of these fresh, pungent flavours. Others, however, do not feel the same way.

As the belacan was roasting, my little person exclaimed, “What is that disgusting smell? I hate that smell!” Then I made my sister taste some of the mango when she arrived for dinner, portable pizza oven in hand. From the look on her face, she did well not to spit it out. Hence this is a taste which I can most assuredly referred to as ‘acquired’.

On my return to Perth from Bali, I discovered that rujak/rojak is a popular South-East Asian dish that is made differently to suit different events, tastes and regions.

My recipe comes from what I remember of the flavours in the Balinese version I ate, although I tamed the chilli component and my mangoes were not as unripe as I would have liked. This is a dish suitable for pescetarians but not vegetarians.

Recipe #121: Hannah’s rujak. Serves 4 as a side. Or 1 really hungry person as a main meal.

You will need — for the dressing:
► 3 birdseye chilli, ground with mortar and pestle [in the absence of fresh chillis, I used chillis I had dried myself and pulverised them into a powder]
► 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
► 1 tsp belacan (shrimp paste), roasted in foil at 200C for about 20 minutes
► 3 tbsp palm sugar
► 2 tbsp fish sauce
► 4 tbsp tamarind concentrate
► juice of 1 lemon

for the salad:
► 2 large green mangoes
► 2 large just-ripe bananas
► 2 large handfuls of mung bean sprouts

Take a large mixing bowl and whisk together the dressing ingredients until well combined. Taste by licking a dipped spoon or finger. Add more tamarind paste (sourness), chilli (heat), fish sauce (saltiness) or palm sugar (sweetness) to suit your own preferences.

the dressing

Cut the fruit into chunks and add to the dressing. I scored the mango and banana so the dressing would permeate their flesh.

scoring the fruit

You can add other ingredients to this salad as you like. I could see rujak working equally well with green papaya and cucumber; my authentic Balinese rujak featured green mango, pineapple, dried shrimp and sausage, and no bean sprouts.

pungent deliciousness

I hope you try my recipe or one of the other thousands of variants a simple google reveals. More than that, I hope you enjoy!

Have an awesome week,

H 🙂



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