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Refreshing Indonesian Traditional Tamarind Vegetable Soup from West Java. Authentic Recipe of Sayur Asem.

Things to know about Sayur Asem Recipe

The local soup known as the Sayur Asem is a unique dish that translates into “sour vegetables”. It originated from West Java, but there are many variants of the dish throughout the country. This dish utilizes a plant that is unique to Southeast Asia, tamarind or locally known as asam jawa. They infused the tamarind’s essence into the soup broth, giving a distinctive sour taste that you can’t find anywhere else. Then, various vegetables are added to the soup. Here, the options are limitless, but the mainstay vegetables used are corns, chayotes, long beans, and melinjo.

Historically, the dish was a peasant dish that existed long before Indonesia’s Independence, since the Dutch era. The harsh economic condition back then forced the locals to be creative with their food. Back then, the tamarind fruit was thriving in the Javanese lands, especially the Western Java. So, the locals experimented to put the tamarind to good use, and thus, the Sayur Asem was born. This dish is also culturally significant, as it served as a foundation for another traditional dish, the Sayur Lodeh. Philosophically, the Sayur Asem represents the diversity of the Indonesian people and life in general, as seen from the various vegetables used that come together cohesively in this dish. Through this dish, the local Sundanese people want to teach that there is unity in diversity, which happens to be the motto of Indonesia, Bhinneka tunggal ika.

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Refreshing Indonesian Traditional Tamarind Vegetable Soup from West Java. Authentic Recipe of Sayur Asem.

Local Recipe Name with Local Characters: Sayur Asem
User submitted Recipe
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— General Atributes of This Recipe:

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Main Ingredient Group Vegetable based Recipes
Main Cooking Method Boiled



  • 1 pc Chayote – Mirliton – Güisquil – Pimpinela – Choko – Labu Siam – Chow Chow Large
  • 5 pcs Long Bean – Yardlong Bean – Asparagus Bean – Pea Bean – Long-Podded Cowpea – Chinese Long Bean – Snake Bean – Bodi – Bora
  • 2 cobs Sweet Corn – Sugar Corn – Pole Corn
  • 50 grams (1.76 oz) Melinjo Fruit – Gnetum Gnemon Fruit – Gnetum Fruit Fruit – Joint Fir Fruit – Two Leaf – Belinjo Fruit – Bago Fruit
  • 25 grams (0.88 oz) Melinjo Leaf – Gnetum Gnemon Leaf – Gnetum Leaf – Joint Fir Leaf – Two Leaf – Belinjo Leaf – Bago Leaf
  • 50 grams (1.76 oz) Peanut
  • 4 tbsp Tamarind Juice
  • 2 pcs Bay Leaf
  • 1 thumb Greater Galangal – Alpinia Galanga – Lengkuas – Laos
  • 2 L (67.63 floz) Water
  • Salt To taste
  • Palm Sugar – Palm Jaggery To taste
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Blended Spices

  • 5 cloves Shallot Onion
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 3 pcs Red Bird’s Eye Chili Pepper
  • 1 tsp Shrimp Paste – Terasi Variety – Indonesian Fermented Shrimp Paste
  • 3 pcs Roasted Candlenut



  • Wash the vegetables thoroughly.
  • Dice the chayote into 1 to 2 inches (2.5 – 5 cm) sized chunks.
  • Slice the Green long beans into 2-inch (5 cm) pieces in length.
  • Break the corn cob into 2 – 3 pieces, you can use your hands or knife.
  • Prepare a small saucepan, add water and boil the peanuts until soft.
  • Peel and crush the galangal.
  • Into a food processor, add all the ingredients for the blended spices and mix into a smooth paste.


  • Add water into a pot and bring it to a boil.
  • Once boiling, add the blended spices, bay leaves, and galangal. Mix well and bring it to a boil.
  • Add the corn and melinjo. Let it simmer until the corn is cooked.
  • Next, add the peanuts along with the chayote. Continue simmering until the chayote is cooked and soft.
  • Lastly, add the long beans, melinjo leaves, and tamarind juice. Season to taste with salt and sugar. Mix well.
  • Let it simmer until everything is fully cooked, and turn off the heat.
  • Into a serving bowl, take a ladle of the soup and vegetables, and the dish is ready to be served!


You can adjust the heat of the dish by altering the number of chili used in the blended spice mix.
For the best taste, use young sweet corn instead of the old ones.
This dish is best served as a side dish with warm rice and your protein of choice, like tempeh goreng, ayam goreng,or tahu goreng.
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— Specific Atributes of This Recipe:

Healthy Diet Recipe Healthy Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes


Calories: 105kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 5gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.002gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 64mgPotassium: 195mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 107IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 36mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Indonesian Traditional Tamarind Vegetable Soup, Sayur Asem Recipe
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