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Sayur lodeh is a type of vegetable soup made with a broth of coconut milk; it is popular in Indonesia, Malaysia and surrounding areas. There are two basic parts to sayur lodeh, a long list of vegetables such as cabbage, beans, carrots, turnips, onions and cauliflower, and then the broth and spice mixture that is prepared much like a curry from a paste of roasted aromatics and spices such as ginger, galangal, garlic, coriander and turmeric. Although the dish often is described as a vegetable soup, sayur lodeh is not necessarily vegetarian and traditionally includes dried or fresh shrimp and sometimes ikan bilis, or dried anchovies. The soup can be somewhat thick or it can be very loose and thin, depending on the type of coconut milk used and the amount of stock or water that is added. When completed, sayur lodeh can be served with rice, packed rice rolls, noodles or fried fish.
One of the defining factors in most recipes for sayur lodeh is the amount and variety of vegetables that are added to the dish. Some of the most common ingredients include green beans, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, eggplant, onions and broccoli. Less frequently, vegetables such as potatoes, turnips and celery are added. All the vegetables are cleaned and then chopped into bite-size pieces so they cook evenly in the soup.
The base for sayur lodeh is made much like a curry would be. Spices are assembled, with some being roasted beforehand, and then ground together into a thick paste. Common spices include garlic, ginger, galangal, coriander, turmeric, cumin, chili peppers and lemongrass. Dried shrimp or ikan bilis also can be ground into the mixture.
To make sayur lodeh, the spice mixture is placed in a hot pan and fried until the oils are released and the spices become aromatic. Coconut milk then is combined with stock, broth or water and heated in a pot. The cooked spice mixture is added to the coconut broth and cooked until the flavor spreads through all the liquid. The vegetables then are added to the pan and the entire dish is simmered until the vegetables have cooked.
Completed sayur lodeh can be served a bowl and garnished with fresh cilantro, or it can be poured over steamed white rice. Alternately, compact rice cakes or balls can be placed in the soup. In some areas of Indonesia, the soup is served alongside salted fish that has been fried until crispy.