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Malaysian table salad (Ulam)

Australian Gourmet Traveller Malaysian banquet recipe for Malaysian table salad (ulam)

By Tony Tan
  • Serves 6
Malaysian table salad (Ulam)
Malaysian table salad (Ulam)

This salad may include raw and blanched vegetables such as snake beans, cabbage, and cucumber, plus a host of tropical herbs. It is often teamed with sambal belacan - the assertive relish comprising roasted shrimp paste, chilli and lime juice. I've also enjoyed it with tempoyak (a relish made with durian) and a simple sauce of coconut milk, sea salt and sugar. On a recent visit, I enjoyed this salad with a sweet-savoury relish of dried shrimps, shallots, tangy lime juice and chilli at Stan's Assam & Garam Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. It's shown here with our recipe for fish head curry.


  • 3 Japanese eggplants, cut into 5cm chunks (see note)
  • 8 small okra
  • 150 gm snake beans, cut into 5cm lengths
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, cut into batons
Sambal relish
  • 500 gm dark palm sugar
  • 150 ml fish sauce
  • 300 gm dried shrimp, rinsed and finely chopped (see note)
  • 100 gm long red chillies, finely chopped
  • 5-10 small red chillies, finely chopped
  • 3 red shallots, finely chopped
  • To taste: lime juice


  • 1
    For sambal relish, combine palm sugar, fish sauce, dried shrimp and long red chilli in a saucepan, add 3 cups of water and stir over low heat until sauce is thick and syrupy. Add small red chilli and shallot and simmer for another minute. Season to taste with salt, cool, then season to taste with lime juice.
  • 2
    Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Add eggplant and cook for 30 seconds, drain and refresh in iced water. Drain well and set aside. Repeat with okra and snake beans.
  • 3
    Arrange eggplant, okra, snake beans and cucumber on a plate, dress with shallot-chilli relish and serve with rice.


Note Japanese eggplants are the long thin variety, available from supermarkets. Dried shrimp are available from Asian food stores.

  • Author: Tony Tan