How To Make Mango Kerabu And 14 Other Nyonya-Style Salads To Open Up Your Appetite

Requiring easily-sourced ingredients that are probably already available at home, these appetising Peranakan-style salads can be whipped up in no time at all!

Cover image via Season with Spice

1. Mango kerabu (kerabu mangga)

2 small green (young and unripe) mangoes, skinned and julienned (cut into short, thin strips)
5 shallots, finely sliced
10 bird's eye chillies (cili padi) OR a few red chillies, sliced finely
1 medium-sized cucumber, soft centre removed and julienned
1 medium-sized carrot, shredded

3 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 dash of pepper

Coriander leaves
Mint leaves

1. Combine seasoning ingredients in a mixing bowl.

2. Stir in all the rest of the ingredients.

3. Garnish and enjoy! You can also chill it before serving if you wish.

Tip: Add sliced apples and papayas, finely sliced torch ginger flower buds (bunga kantan), ground peanuts, or grilled squids for extra flavour.

Recipe adapted from (malaysian^mum).

2. Nyonya-style pineapple salad (kerabu nanas)

Half fresh pineapple
1 cucumber
1 red onion
Half capsicum
1 large red chilli
6 long beans
2 to 3 cups rocket leaves (optional)
Mint leaves for garnish

Dressing (combine and mixed well):
4 tablespoons Chinese dark vinegar
1 tablespoon dried shrimp (pounded)
1 tablespoon gula Melaka (dark palm sugar)
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Peel and cut pineapple into 1 cm pieces. Cut cucumber into 1cm cubes. Finely dice red onion and capsicum. Slice chilli lengthways, remove seeds and membrane, then very finely slice. Add all cut and sliced ingredients into a bowl.

2. Heat a fry pan or wok. Cut long beans into 40mm lengths and dry fry for a few minutes. Allow to cool and add to rest of ingredients.

3. Pound the dry shrimp (or chop finely). Shave the palm sugar. Add to a bowl with the vinegar and salt. Stir until sugar has dissolved.

4. Store salad in refrigerator until needed.

5. Before serving, add rocket leaves to salad, toss then dress and garnish just before serving.

Tip: Make this a one dish wonder by wok-tossing some peeled prawns, squid tubes, scallops, or fish to add into your kerabu.

Recipe by John Gregory Smith on ABC.

3. Spicy cucumber kerabu (kerabu timun)

1/4 cup (25g) dried shrimps, rinsed and drained
1 large cucumber (de-seeded and cut into 1/4 inch-thick slices) + 1 tsp salt
3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tbsp sambal belacan
1/2 lime
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

1. Soak dried shrimps in hot boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and pound in a mortar and pestle until all shrimps are smashed. Dried shrimps can also be coarsely chopped on the cutting board. Set aside.

2. Mix cucumber with a teaspoon of salt in a bowl for 20 minutes to draw out the juices. Rinse and drain.

3. Place cucumber, shallots, prepared dried shrimps, sambal belacan, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Squeeze lime juice over the ingredients. Toss until all the ingredients are well combined.

Recipe by Linda Ooi from Malaysian Chinese Kitchen.

4. Asam laksa kerabu salad with chilli lime dressing

INGREDIENTS: 1/2 cucumber, core/seeds removed and cut into thin strips 3 shallots, sliced thinly A few leaves of Celtuce (Chinese lettuce) or iceberg lettuce, shredded 1/4 cup fresh pineapple, cut into thin strips 1 sweet or green mango, cut into thin strips

Garnishing: A handful of fresh mint leaves, whole or sliced thinly 1/2 torch ginger flower (bunga kantan), finely chopped A handful of chopped roasted peanuts or cashews

Chilli lime dressing: 2 tbsp fresh lime juice 2 tsp rice vinegar 2 tsp fish sauce (optional) 1/2 tbsp coconut palm sugar 1/2 red chilli pepper, deseeded & finely sliced

1. To make chilli lime dressing, combine all the ingredients and mix well.

2. In a bowl, combine cucumber strips, sliced shallots, shredded lettuce, pineapple and mango strips. Add in the dressing and mix well.

3. Garnish with some mint leaves, torch ginger flower, and peanuts or cashews.

Tip: Add in some sambal for a spicy kick!

Recipe adapted from Season with Spice.

5. Nyonya-style fiddlehead fern kerabu (kerabu pucuk paku)

Image via Rasa

250g trimmed fiddlehead ferns (pucuk paku)
1/4 cup cleaned shrimp, steamed
3 shallots, sliced
4 to 5 petals of torch ginger (bunga kantan), finely sliced
1 tbsp toasted peanuts, crushed

2 red chillies
1cm cube shrimp paste (belacan)
2 tbsp calamansi juice (limau kasturi)
2 tsp light brown sugar or to taste
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
3 tbsp coconut milk (45ml)

1. To prepare dressing, pound red chillies with belacan until it turns to a coarse paste. Mix with the rest of the ingredients and taste it. Adjust seasoning if needed. Make it slightly over-salted.

2. Blanch fiddlehead ferns in boiling water for 1 minute. Tip: Adding a small pinch of baking soda to blanching water keeps the ferns green.

3. Drain and place it on serving dish. Pour gravy over and top with raw sliced shallots, steamed shrimp, torch ginger, and peanuts.

4. Toss and serve.

Recipe adapted from Wendy in KK.

6. Four-angled beans kerabu (kerabu kacang botol)

INGREDIENTS: 400g four-angled beans (kacang botol) 2 heaped tbsp dried shrimps, washed and drained 8 bird's eye chillies 1/2 torch ginger flower bud (bunga kantan) Juice from 2 large limes 1/2 to 1 tsp fish sauce 1/3 tsp salt 1/2 tbsp fine sugar 2 tbsp peanut brittle, pounded until fine (optional) 2 tbsp grated and toasted coconut (kerisik) (optional) DIRECTIONS: 1. Wash the beans, then drain and pat dry with a clean towel. Cut off the tops and tails before slicing the beans thinly. 2. Slice chillies and torch ginger finely. 3. Combine all the ingredients except peanut brittle. Mix well and season to taste. 4. Top it off with pounded peanut brittle or grated coconut and serve.

**Recipe adapted from Hunger Hunger (Linda).

7. Beansprouts kerabu (kerabu taugeh)

1 cup freshly grated coconut OR 2/3 cup canned dessicated coconut
2 red chillies
3 bird's eye chillies (cili padi) (optional)
1 tbsp tamarind (asam jawa) paste
3 limes
180g bean sprouts, washed and drained
5 to 6 shallots, sliced finely
Some boiled cockles (optional)
Salt to taste

1. Place the grated coconut into a small or medium pan and fry until it turns a dark golden brown. This takes about 7 to 9 minutes over medium flame.
Important: Watch it carefully because the coconut can burn easily and keep stirring to allow the coconut to brown evenly.

2. While it is still hot or warm, pound the fried grated coconut in a pestle and mortar until it becomes a thick brown paste and starts exuding oil. Scrape it up and put it in a medium-sized bowl.

3. Pound the fresh chillies and cili padi (if you are using them) into a fine paste. Add the chilli paste into the bowl.

4. Mix tamarind paste with 2 tablespoons of water. Strain and pour the tamarind water into the bowl as well.

5. Squeeze the limes, discard the seeds, and pour in the juice.

6. Stir the mixture until it is well combined. Add salt to taste. You can also add in extra lime juice and/or a sprinkle of sugar if you wish. Mix well.

7. Add in raw bean sprouts, sliced shallots, and boiled cockles (if you are using). Toss so as to combine well with the dressing. Add salt to taste.

8. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from Cherry on a Cake.

8. Coconut and chilli kerabu

Image via Rasa Malaysia

1⁄2 red onion, sliced thinly
2 tbsp grated coconut
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thinly
2 1⁄4 cups bean sprouts
1⁄2 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
1 small handful mint leaves, roughly chopped

4 tbsp fish sauce
Juice from 2 limes
2 tsp sugar
1-inch piece ginger root, peeled

1. To make the dressing, whisk fish sauce, lime juice and sugar together in a large bowl. Grate ginger root into the bowl, discarding the fibrous bits, and mix well.

2. Top off the dressing with sliced onions and mix well, then set aside 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, toast the coconut in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring continuously, for
30 to 40 seconds until the coconut turns golden brown. Tip it onto a plate and
set aside.

4. To assemble the salad, add red pepper, bean sprouts, red chili and mint to the
onion mixture and toss until all the ingredients are well coated. Transfer to a serving bowl, scatter the roasted coconut over the top and serve immediately.

Recipe from Rasa Malaysia.

9. Kerabu bihun

Image via An Ocean Away

1 tbsp sambal belacan (adjustable, depending on how spicy the sambal is)
30g dried prawns, washed, chopped, and pan fried
2 tbsp toasted cocount (kerisik) OR 50g grated white coconut, pan fried 'til golden (optional)
100g prawns, blanched, shelled and sliced into halves
100g rice vermicelli (bihun), blanched in boiling water, drained and refreshed with cool boiled water
1 small cucumber, de-seeded and cut into thin strips (optional)
4 to 5 shallots, sliced thinly
5 kaffir lime leaves (daun limau purut), sliced thinly (optional)
5 to 6 tbsp calamansi lime juice (from about 6 calamansi limes)
1 tsp sugar or to taste
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
Coriander or mint leaves for garnishing

1. In a big mixing bowl, combine sambal belacan, sugar, salt and calamansi lime juice.

2. Add in shallots, kaffir lime leaves, prawns and dried prawns. Mix well and season to taste.

3. Add in blanched bihun in batches for easy mixing. Toss well.

4. Garnish and serve immediately with extra sambal, or slightly chilled.

Recipe adapted from Kimmy Cooking Pleasure.

10. Glass vermicelli kerabu (kerabu tang hoon)

100g dried tang hoon, soaked in warm water to soften and expand
300g prawns, shelled, deveined, and briefly blanched
2 carrots, peeled and grated
8 to 10 shallots, sliced thinly
100g bean sprouts
1/2 cucumber, core and seeds removed and cut into thin strips
3 stalks lemongrass, thinly sliced
Sambal belacan to taste

Optional (for garnishing):
Mint leaves
Coriander leaves
Grated, toasted coconut (kerisik)

1. Combine all the ingredients. Mix well with sambal belacan (the dressing) and adjust according to your preference.
2. Garnish with some mint or coriander and/or top it off with some kerisik before serving.

Recipe adapted from Kawan-kawan Katong.

11. Beef tripe kerabu with bean sprouts (kerabu perut)

300g beef tripe
150g bean sprouts, boiled
1 small red onion, halved and finely sliced
2 tbsp shredded coconut, grated and fried/roasted

Dressing (chilli sauce):
3 chillies (60g), sliced
8g belacan
2 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Some grated coconut for garnish

1. Put beef tripe in a pot of salted water and let it simmer gently for an hour. Drain and let it cool.

2. Cut beef tripe into thin slices. Place them in a bowl and add in bean sprouts and sliced onions. Cover and place the mixture in the refrigerator.

3. To make the dressing, blend chillies, belacan, lime juice, salt and sugar until it becomes a fine paste.

4. Add dressing to the bowl of refrigerated ingredients and mix well. Add seasoning if necessary.

5. Garnish with grated coconut and serve.

Recipe adapted from HungryGoWhere (Rohani Jelani).

12. Chicken kerabu

Image via Frozen Wings

2 chicken breasts, boiled and shredded
6 shallots, sliced thinly
2 stalks lemongrass, sliced thinly
1 medium-sized torch ginger flower, sliced thinly
1 sprig laksa leaves, sliced thinly
1 piece cabbage leaf, sliced thinly
5 bird's eye chilli (cili padi)

10 limes, halved and squeezed for juice
1cm gula melaka or palm sugar, crushed
1 tbsp budu (fermented fish sauce )
1/2 cm belacan (optional)
Salt to taste


1. Combine all the ingredients for the dressing. Mix well and season to taste.

2. Combine the rest of the ingredients and pour in the dressing.

3. Mix well and serve.

Recipe adapted from Frozen Wings.

13. Chicken and black fungus kerabu

50g black (wood ear) fungus
150g shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
1 small torch ginger flower, halved and sliced finely (about 2 to 3 tbsp)
2 tbsp toasted grated coconut (kerisik), pounded
300g chicken, steamed and shredded (or use leftover roast chicken)
2 to 3 tbsp peanuts, roasted and crushed (optional)

Sambal belacan:
100g fresh red chillies, seeded
40g belacan, toasted
3 tbsp calamansi lime juice

2 tbsp sambal belacan
3 tbsp calamansi lime juice
2 tbsp sugar, or to taste
Salt to taste

1. Soak the fungus for about 10 minutes and pinch off all the hard bits before scalding with hot water. Drain and slice finely.

2. To make sambal: Cut up the chillies roughly. Pound the chillies and belacan together to the desired consistency, and mix in the lime juice.

3. To make dressing: Combine the dressing ingredients in a large bowl and mix well, seasoning to taste.

4. Add all the salad ingredients to the dressing in the mixing bowl. Mix well and tip into a serving plate. Sprinkle with peanuts if desired.

Recipe by Ivy Soon on

14. Chicken feet kerabu

Image via Adline Writes

10 chicken feet, boiled and deboned
Handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 medium-sized red onion, sliced thinly
1 red chilli, julienned
1 cup of carrot, shaved with a peeler
1 tomato, cubed

2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp belacan
2 tbsp kerisik
1 tsp sugar
4 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp chilli sauce

1. Combine all the ingredients for the dressing. Mix well and adjust the taste to your preference. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix all the salad ingredients together. Add in the dressing and mix well.

3. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes before serving.

Tip: You can substitute the chicken feet with squid - blanched and drained - before adding it to the salad.

Recipe adapted from Adline Writes.

15. Anchovies and rose apple kerabu (kerabu ikan bilis dengan jambu air)

300g dried ikan bilis, rinsed well
3 medium-sized rose apples (jambu air)
2 to 3 kaffir lime leaves (daun limau purut)
2 shallots, peeled
1 stick lemongrass, white part only
1 stick torch ginger flower (bunga kantan), pink part only
Oil for frying

2 tbsp Mea Pranom Thai chilli paste
1 long red chilli, pounded into a paste
1 tsp honey or agave nectar
1 to 2 tbsp fish sauce
1to 2 tbsp lime juice

1. Heat about 2cm of oil in a pan. Dab the ikan bilis dry with a clean kitchen towel. Fry the ikan bilis until crisp and golden. Drain well.

2. Slice the rose apples in half lengthwise and remove any seeds and cottony pith. Cut lengthwise into thin slices.

3. Remove the central vein of the kaffir lime leaves and finely slice. Finely slice the shallots, lemongrass and torch ginger flower. Place all of them in a mixing bowl with the ikan bilis and rose apple.

4. Mix all the dressing ingredients together to taste. Add to the mixing bowl and toss together. Serve immediately.

Recipe by Jane F. Ragavan on

Now, how about whipping up some homemade condiments too?

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