Learn how to make Asinan Sayur a traditional Indonesian Coleslaw that is famous for being salty and sour.
The easy Indonesian Cabbage Salad can be served as a meal on its own as its packed with protein thanks to tofu and peanuts. It can also be served as a side dish with other popular Indonesian dishes like satay, sambal, fried rice and stir-fried noodles.
Our healthy Indonesian Asinan Sayur recipe features flavourful ingredients like tangy tamarind, spicy chili, sweet palm sugar, funky shrimp paste and sour lime and rice vinegar.
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What Is Asinan Sayur?
Asinan is a pickled vegetable or fruit dish, commonly found in Indonesia.
Asin, Indonesian for “salty”, is the process of preserving the ingredients by soaking them in a solution of salty water. Asinan is quite similar to Singaporean Rojak, which is usually served fresh.
It is believed that the fruit variety originates from Jakarta and the vegetable variety from the city of Bogor. The dish was developed under numerous cultural influences, and it is a true representative of Indonesian multicultural heritage. A variety of Asinan recipes can be found served in restaurants, warung and street food vendors throughout Indonesia.
Ingredients of Asinan Sayur are similar to Korean kimchi. Their main ingredients are cabbage, cucumber, and salt. They both have the cabbage salted, but in kimchi the salting process takes longer than the process in asinan, which can be served soon after being prepared.
According to Indonesian culinary historian William Wongso, Asinan Sayur recipes vary as they may be influenced by Indian, Chinese, Arab, Portuguese, or Dutch cuisine. You can expect a lot of variation based on regional preferences, seasonal ingredient availability and family recipes passed down through the generations.
The dish is typically served topped with rice crackers (krupuk mie), roasted peanuts, fried shallots or scallions.
Travel to Indonesia by Cooking Asinan Sayur at Home
I love traveling to Asia.
After my contract ended in Seoul I travelled throughout Asia for 6 months, visiting the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, The Maldives, India and Malaysia.
In 2008 I spent 2 months backpacking through Indonesia, adventuring through Yogyakarta, Borobodur, Gunung Bromo, Gili Trawangan, and Bali. I fell so head over heels in love with Bali that years later I returned as a food and travel journalist to write the ultimate Bali Honeymoon Guide.
I dined at some of Indonesia’s best restaurants and street food stalls while exploring Bali’s Best Hotels & Resorts and fancy Bali Cocktail Bars. I was on the hunt to sample the must-try tastes of Bali, such as Babi Guling, Nasi Goreng, Mie Goreng, Lawar, Satay, and Nasi Ayam Campur. Many of these traditional Indonesian dishes served in Bali are accompanied by the popular sweet and salty cabbage salad called Asinan Sayur.
I became a fan of Asinan Sayur as I’ve always had a penchant for crunchy and sour coleslaw salads. This flavour packed Indonesian Cabbage Salad recipe features tangy, funky, acidic, salty and sweet flavours. It’s the absolute opposite of boring!
If you’ve traveled to Indonesia and fallen in love with Asinan Sayur it’s easy to recreate the dish at home by using this easy recipe.
Where To Eat Indonesian Asinan Sayur
Haven’t traveled to Indonesia before? It may be helpful to first sample the dish at a local Indonesian or Malaysian restaurant to better understand how the salad is served. You can determine the perfect spicy heat level, proportion of vegetables to dressing and the ideal dishes to serve at the table.
In Toronto, popular Indonesian and Malaysian restaurants that may serve a traditional Indonesian Coleslaw recipe include Borrel Restaurant, Little Sister, Soos, Gourmet Malaysia, Restoran Malaysia and NaiNai.
My Family Loves Asinan Sayur Indonesian Coleslaw
My family is always looking for new ways to incorporate fresh vegetables into our meals.
They love eating fresh salads so after returning home from my first trip to Indonesia I knew I wanted to share my love of Asinan Sayur.
I knew my parents would enjoy this healthy Indonesian Asinan recipe because they enjoy cabbage coleslaw, salty peanuts, tender tofu and tangy tamarind sauces.
I prepared the dish on a hot summer day and we enjoyed it as a hearty lunch with grilled chicken satay skewers.
We often make Asinan Sayur when we have a bunch of vegetables in the fridge that need to get used up as it’s a great way to incorporate a variety of vegetables into one meal.
Indonesian Cabbage Salad Recipe Health Benefits
Our Asinan Sayur recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!
It is only recently that scientists have begun to identify the components responsible for garlic’s myriad health benefits. Rich in phytochemicals and potassium, garlic helps boost your immune system, fight cancer and protect your heart.
Chili has been proven to help reduce the duration of sickness, prevent heart disease, and promote weight loss.
Cucumbers are low in calories and high in water content so are great at hydrating the body. To maximize their nutrient content, cucumbers should be eaten unpeeled. Peeling them reduces the amount of fibre, as well as certain vitamins and minerals.
Tofu is a good source of protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. It is also a valuable plant source of iron and calcium and the minerals manganese and phosphorous.
An excellent source of vitamin A and the phytochemical beta-carotene, carrots help keep your eyes and bones healthy, and may help protect against several types of cancer.
An excellent source of vitamins K and C, cabbage helps keep your bones, blood, and immune system healthy.
A rich source of phytochemicals and vitamin C, limes help boost your immune system and neutralize free radicals that cause disease and skin aging. Lemons also protect against heart disease and help improve blood flow to the brain.
Peanuts are rich in protein, fat, and fibre. While peanuts may have a large amount of fat, most of the fats they contain are known as “good fats.”
A good source of bone-strengthening vitamin K, cilantro is also rich in antioxidants that help protect the eyes from damage by free radicals.
Scallions are a humble vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Regular consumption of onions can help boost digestive health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
Homemade Asinan Sayur Recipe Cooking Tips
This healthy Asinan Sayur recipe is quick and easy to make at home.
- We’ve used rice wine vinegar in this recipe but in a pinch you can use a combination of white vinegar and apple cider vinegar.
- We’ve used coconut oil in this recipe, which we highly recommend as it gives the dressing the desired tropical coconut flavour. You can substitute for peanut oil or flavourless canola oil.
- We’ve used palm sugar in this recipe because it’s authentic but you can substitute with brown sugar.
- We’ve used an English cucumber in this recipe but you can substitue for Persian cucumber if you like.
- We’ve used chili in this recipe but since my family can’t handle a lot of heat we only used one and scraped out the seeds. If you like spicy food feel free to add as many chopped up chilies as you’d like.
- Tamarind Paste and Shrimp Paste are a must in this dish. You can purchase them at your local Asian supermarket or on Amazon.
- Use firm tofu in this recipe so it doesn’t crumble into the salad when tossed.
- We’ve used green cabbage in this recipe but you can substitute with an Asian-style cabbage like Napa.
- We’ve garnished the salad with scallions but you can also top with crispy fried shallots or traditional fried noodles.
What To Serve with Indonesian Cabbage Salad
Asinan Sayur can be served as a side dish or entree salad.
Indonesian Cabbage Salad is typically served at the table with other Indonesian dishes like Nasi Goreng, Mie Goreng, Satay, and Nasi Ayam Campur. The acidity, sweetness and saltiness of Asinan Sayur pairs nicely with heavy stir-fried, deep-fried and meat-centric dishes.
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Storing Indonesian Coleslaw
If you have leftovers you can store the Indonesian Coleslaw in the fridge in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
The salad will keep its crunchy texture for around 24 hours and the following day the ingredients will have absorbed more of the flavourful dressing.
How To Make Homemade Asinan Sayur
Asinan Sayur Indonesian Coleslaw
- French knife
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- mixing bowl
- Fying Pan
- Mortar and Pestle
- 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
- 2 Garlic Cloves peeled and finely chopped
- 1 Green or Red Chilli finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Palm Sugar
- 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 tbsp Tamarind Paste
- 1 tsp Shrimp Paste
- 1/4 cup Rice Vinegar
- 100 g Firm Tofu cut into chunks
- 1/2 Cucumber deseeded, sliced into matchsticks
- 1/4 cup Carrots sliced into matchsticks
- 1/2 Small Cabbage finely shredded
- 1 Lime juiced
- 50 g Roasted Peanuts chopped
- 1/4 cup Cilantro
- 1 Scallion thinly sliced
- To make the dressing, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook the garlic and chili for 2-3 minutes until softened, then transfer to a mortar and pestle. Add the sugar, salt and tamarind paste and shrimp paste to the mortar, then grind to a paste. Stir in 3 tbsp of water to loosen the dressing. Set aside.
- Dry tofu with paper towel. Press down to squeeze out any excess moisture.
- Toss the tofu with cucumber, carrots, shredded cabbage and lime juice. Stir through the roasted peanuts and cilantro leaves.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss the ingredients together. Serve garnished with scallions.
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