That aside, I had a surprisingly good time – the 17 mile drive, trekking in Yosemite national Park and outlet shopping were all amazing in their own ways. It was also great because there was no planning I needed to do, no navigation, no watching over the kids…it was a real holiday for me.
The wonderful thing about travelling around the West Coast of USA is that the food is really healthy and it was really easy for me with my low carb lifestyle to find good food options. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised in Tenaya Lodge, nestled in the middle of Yosemite, to find Shirataki noodles! I couldn’t believe my eyes and actually sent the waiter to go to the kitchen to double check that it was really shirataki noodles and not some rice or mung bean noodles. It was really bliss to be able to have dedicated low carb dishes to eat. But after about 2 weeks of eating out I didn’t really crave Chinese food, but I confess I was starting to miss spicy food! There is something fundamental about the need for the burn on the tongue that makes meals so much more fun!
So coming back to Singapore, I was really pleased when dear hubs bought Indian fish head curry from Banana Leaf Apolo restaurant for our Mother’s Day dinner. To this day I still don’t understand why my kids don’t like spicy food…I super adore curries! So needless to say after a couple of weeks’ spice deprivation, the craving came on strong and that was why I decided to make an Asian staple – vegetable curry.
Sayur Lodeh is a very comforting curry. It is not too spicy but the depth of flavour is amazing. The secret to any good curry is the spice paste or rempah. Nothing beats a good rempah, and the umami in this curry comes from the dried prawn paste (belachan), dried prawns, lemongrass and ginger. The only drawback is that frying the belachan is quite odiferous – I remember when we used to make sambal belachan in New Jersey; we used to worry that the neighbours would call 911 to complain about the smell of a rotting body. But this is so worth it! The difference between this curry versus a store bought paste is really the freshness and depth of flavour.
Why use the Instant Pot? The reality is that because this is a vegetable curry, the pressure cooking time is literally only 5 minutes. The majority of time needed is for preparation of ingredients and the need for time to make the spice paste. I still haven’t figured out how to peel shallots fast! I have no idea how our older folks used to do it with just pestle and mortar. I’m really grateful for my handy food processor.
Finally for low carbers, this is a great curry when you are tired of eating too much meat. The protein in this dish comes from the hard boiled eggs, tofu and tempeh. It is not a heavy dish but deeply satisfying.
Instant Pot Vegetable Curry (Sayur Lodeh)
For the curry
- 1 head of cabbage, cut into large chunks
- 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
- 200g long beans, trimmed and but into 3 inch lengths
- 2 blocks of firm tofu
- 200g tempeh
- 3 hard boiled eggs (optional)
- 1/2 tsp sugar substitute
- 500 ml coconut milk
- 1 packet (100 ml) coconut cream
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 packet shirataki noodles
- 3 – 4 tbsp groundnut oil
Spice paste (rempah)
- 10-12 shallots, peeled
- 1/3 cup (40g) dried prawns
- 4-5 pieces of dried chilli, soaked
- 1 knob (20g) of galangal
- 2 stalks of lemongrass, trimmed and cut into short lengths
- 2 candlenuts (buah keras)
- 1 tbsp turmeric or 1 knob fresh turmeric (10g)
- 1/2 tbsp dried prawn paste (belachan)
- 2 tbsp groundnut oil
- Dry fry the shirataki noodles and set aside.
- Toast the belachan without oil in the Instant Pot on sauté mode. Toast for about 5 minutes, breaking the belachan down into smaller pieces. Set aside.
- Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blend till it becomes a fine paste. Set aside.
- Place 3-4 tbsp oil into the Instant Pot in sauté mode. Fry the firm tofu (bean curd) first till lightly browned on each side, then set aside. Fry the tempeh till lightly browned and set aside.
- Clean the inner pot. Heat 2 tbsp oil in the pot in sauté mode, then add the spice paste and fry for about 5 minutes, till the rempah has darkened in colour and is fragrant.
- Add the coconut milk, coconut cream, chicken stock, cabbage, long beans and carrots into the pot. Stir through carefully, ensuring that the vegetables are immersed in the cooking liquid.
- Turn off the sauté mode. Close the lid and put the valve into sealed position. Pressure cook on manual on high for 5 minutes.
- Do a quick pressure release. Stir in the hard boiled eggs, firm tofu, tempeh and shirataki noodles into the curry. Add the sugar substitute and salt as necessary (I didn’t need to add salt in this case).
- Serve hot in bowls. This recipe does not include pressed rice cakes that are obviously not low carb.