In the middle of the afternoon when the lunch spread had finished, our canteen operator used to prepare cucur sayur for afternoon tea. It was one of the most popular snacks here and an after-lunch queue would form to pick out the cucur sayur from her basket the moment they emerged from the wok. I remember many times when we arrived late and the cucur would be gone even before teatime.
The term cucur is derived from the Indonesian dessert kue cucur, which is a sweet fritter made with palm sugar and flour. It essentially refers to batter that is fried in oil with various ingredients, the most popular being cucur udang with prawns and cucur badak with shredded coconut and dried shrimps. However, unlike these snacks that are usually quite dense, cucur sayur is lighter and spreads out into a lacy fritter that is crispy like the Japanese tempura.
For this recipe, in the spirit of patriotism, I’m using vegetables that can be combined in tribute to our Jalur Gemilang. Using red chillies with white onions and bean sprouts, I’ve also added yellow pumpkin and red cabbage for the other colours.
I remember the old adage that red cabbage should not be boiled in milk or it will turn blue. I’ve turned this advice around and did just that so that I get the blue strands of cabbage in my fritter. Watch my video and see how the red cabbage transformed when simmered in milk.
When frying the cucur, try to drain excess batter off from the vegetables to prevent the formation of a dense centre. The metal ladle is just a mold to keep the cucur in shape so try not to fill it with too much batter. The fritter should detach easily from the ladle halfway through the frying.
If you’ve cut the vegetables finely, they should cook quite quickly and evenly and can be removed from the oil after about 5 minutes. Drain the excess oil on absorbent paper and serve immediately with any chilli sauce or, if you prefer, mayonnaise.
Cucur sayur will get limp if left out for too long, but you can reheat them in the oven at low temperature of about 100°C for about 10 minute to recrisp the fritters.
- 275 self-raising flour
- 60g rice flour
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- ½ tsp granulated sugar
- 400ml cold water
- 1 small egg
- 200g bean sprouts, cleaned and plucked
- 50g red chillies, seeded and julienned
- 200g pumpkin, shredded
- 50g garlic chives, chopped
- 200g white onion, sliced
- 200g red cabbage, julienned
- 1 cup whole milk
- Additional Ingredients:
- 3 cups cooking oil for frying
- 1 cup bottled chilli sauce for dipping
- Shred and julienne the vegetables into similar-sized cuts. To turn the red cabbage blue for the flag colours, simmer cabbage in milk for about 5 minutes, then drain and pat dry.
- Sift the dry batter ingredients together, then whisk in water and egg into a smooth batter.
- Stir the vegetables into the batter until well coated, and set aside for about 30 minutes.
- Heat oil over medium-high until it bubbles. Heat a metal ladle in the hot oil for about a minute, then lightly drop the battered vegetables into the ladle and immediately plunge into the hot oil to fry for about 5 minutes. Release the fritter from the ladle and continue frying until light golden, flipping constantly to ensure even cooking.
- Drain excess oil on paper towels and serve immediately with chilli sauce.