Rojak (Chinese: 囉喏; pinyin: luōrĕ) is a fruit and vegetable salad dish commonly found in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia (where it is called Rujak). The term “Rojak” is Malay for mixture, is also used as a colloquial expression for an eclectic mix, and in particular is often used to describe the multi-ethnic character of Malaysian and Singaporean society.
Malaysian and Singaporean rojak
In Malaysia, mamak rojak (or Indian rojak) contains fried dough fritters, bean curds, boiled potatoes, prawn fritters, hard boiled eggs, bean sprouts and cucumber mixed with a thick, spicy peanut sauce. Traditionally, Indian Muslim (Mamak) rojak vendors use modified sidecar motorcycles as preparation counters and to peddle their rojak. These mobile vendors now use modified mini trucks. The Indian rojak available in Singapore is an assortment of potatoes, eggs, beancurds and prawns fried in batter served with a sweet and spicy chili sauce.
Fruit rojak consists typically of cucumber, pineapple, turnip (jicama), bean sprouts, taupok (puffed soya bean cake) and youtiao (fried dough fritters). Raw mangoes and green apples are less commonly used. The dressing is made up of water, belacan (shrimp paste), sugar, chili, and lime juice. Ingredients vary among vendors with some also using prawn paste, tamarind or black bean paste in the mix. The ingredients are cut into bite-sized portions and tossed in a bowl with the dressing and topped with chopped peanuts and a dash of ground or finely chopped bunga kantan (pink ginger bud). Penang Rojak is another type of Rojak found in Penang, Malaysia. It is similar to fruit rojak, but adds jambu air (Water apple), squid fritters and honey to the mixture.
In Indonesia, especially among Javanese, rujak is an essential part of the traditional prenatal ceremony called “Nujuh Bulanan” (literally: seventh month). Special rujak is made for this occasion, and later served to the mother to be and her guests (mostly her female friends). It is widely known that the sweet, spicy and sour tastes of rujak are adored by pregnant women. The recipe of rujak for this ceremony is similar to typical Indonesian fruit rujak, with the exceptions that the fruits are roughly shredded instead of thinly sliced, and the jeruk bali (grapefruit) is an essential ingredient. It is believed that if the rujak overall tastes sweet, the unborn would be a girl, and if it is spicy, the unborn baby is a boy.
The typical Indonesian fruit rujak consists of slices of assorted tropical fruits such as jambu air (water apple), pineapple, raw mangoes, bangkoang (jicama), cucumber, kedondong, and raw red ubi jalar (sweet potato). Sometimes Malang variants of green apple, belimbing (star fruit), and jeruk Bali (grapefruit) are added. The sweet and spicy-hot bumbu rujak (dressing) is made up of water, gula jawa (coconut sugar), asem jawa (tamarind), grinded sauted peanuts, terasi (shrimp paste), salt, cabe rawit, and red chili. All of the fruits are sliced to bite-size, and put in the dish. The bumbu rujak or thick sweet spicy rujak dressing is poured on the fruit slices. An addition of sambal garam powder (simple mixture of salt and grinded red chilli) is put on side as the alternative for those who love a salty taste for their rujak.
Rujak Tumbuk (Rujak Bèbèk)
Another variant of Indonesian fruit rujak. The ingredients are almost the same as typical Indonesian fruit rujak, with the exception that all the ingredients, fruits and dressing are mashed together (tumbuk or bèbèk in Indonesian) in a wooden mortar. The dressing is not poured on the fruit, but already mixed together with all the ingredients. Rujak tumbuk is served in individual smaller portions on banana leaf plates called “pincuk”.
Literary means “shredded rujak”. Another variant of Indonesian fruit rujak. Like rujak tumbuk, the ingridients are almost the same as typical Indonesian fruit rujak, with the exceptions that the fruits is not sliced in biteable size, but shredded into rough almost paste like consistency.
Literary “cingur” means mouth in Javanese, varient of rujak specialty of Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia. Contains slices of cooked buffalo’s or cow’s lips (mouth), bangkuang, young raw mango, pineapple, cucumber, kangkung (some kind of waterplant used as vegetable), tauge (beansprouts), lontong (glutinous rice cake), tofu, tempe, served in black sauce made from petis (black fermented shrimp paste, similar to terasi), and grinded peanuts, topped with sprinkle of fried shallots and kerupuk (Indonesian cracker). This special rujak from East Java has “meaty” taste.
Literary “pengantin” means bride/groom in Indonesia, this rujak is a reminiscent of Indonesia’s colonial cuisine. It contains slices of boiled eggs, potatoes, fried tofu, pineapple, carrot, bean sprout, pickles, chili, lettuce,cabbage, cucumber, emping crackers, roasted peanuts,peanut sauce and has a little vinegar to it.Some variants mixed the peanut sauce with mayonnaise. It is very similar to gado-gado, a humbler version of the dish.
Juhi means salted cuttlefish for Indonesian, this rujak contains fried beancurd, cuttlefish,cucumber, noodle, lettuce, cabbages, peanut sauce, vinegar, chillies, and fried garlic. It comes close with gado-gado (another Indonesian dish).
Named after China’s most populated city, Shanghai. It’s quite popular among Indonesian Chinese community in Indonesia. This variant of rujak can be found in Indonesian Chinatowns such as Glodok, Jakarta. The same as Rujak Juhi, rujak Shanghai contains seafood. Boiled and sliced gurita (octopus) and teripang (sea cucumber) is served with kangkung (some kinds of water plant commonly used as vegetable), bengkoang, and served with thick red sweet and sour sauce, mixed with pineapple juice, chilli, and granule of sauted peanuts.