Entomophagy

Will you consider eating this?

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In my life up to now, I have tried two types of insect larvae. One is this stir-fried grub in the above pic. It is a larvae of a hornet. It is a real delicacy from where I’m from. When I tried it, I hated the taste. I can’t even describe that sensation other than it was like a membrane capsule with smoky tasting pus inside. Bleh.

This second one, back when I visited Sarawak earlier this year, I like.

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Sago worm (the larvae of a type of palm weevil). Roasted, then mixed with stir-fried onions and chilli. These were like bean curd with roasted sago flavour. Nice.

To be honest, both dishes took me ages to try out because of the yuck factor that comes with creepy crawlies. But it is definitely worth a taste.

My main concern about eating insects though is the source. I hope when harvesting these insects they were very low or free of pesticides.

What do you think? Can this be your alternative protein source?

-M.

Sarawakian fruits

I was back in Sibu again recently. Though it is end of the year, I’ve learnt that the fruiting season is almost the opposite from that on the Peninsula.

SibumarketGone to Sibu market in the early morning to see what I can find. I found that the local durian was in season. My, some of the kampung varieties are so small and looked like a green sea urchin!

Duriansibu

Oh yes, when there is durian, there is also duku/langsat/dokong. The tangy and sweet flesh of that small round yellow-skinned fruit is just so contrasting to the creamy durian. Perfect, right?

Oh, there is of course the all year round banana, but take a look at the price.

pisang

During my trip, I’ve been introduced to a very particular fruit seasonal around November/December.

dabais

Apparently this fruit ripens at the same time on one tree. Dabai, as it is called, is also known as “Black Olive” here.

DabaicookedDabai doesn’t keep well so you will need to eat it within a few days of purchasing. I am told not to buy any wrinkly ones. I’m not sure if you can have it raw, as I was also instructed to “cook” it – buy exposing them to hot sun for a while or soaking them in warm (not boiling) water for about 30 mins or until soften. Then, douse the dabai with soya sauce and sprinkle some sugar to taste.

DabaiSeed

I really don’t know how to describe the taste… a little bit sweet, and… oily? Anyway, it is definitely an acquired taste. The large seed in the centre is like an American football. How odd.

Matakuching

I’ve also spotted some Sarawakian variant of the mata kuching (longan). It’s got green skin with sharp bumps, something like a lychee but tougher. The inside is very much like a longan, though the seed is a paler brown and the flesh more clear. The flavour was intense and so sweet. Much better than any of the commercial longan I have tried.

-M.

Akok

Wow, it’s been a while… sorry!

We had relatives from overseas visiting, so Pinkydoodles and I got to go back to Kelantan for a while to meet up with them.

Mumakil made dinner for all of the guests one night: Khaw Jham (more on that in another post maybe). For dessert, Papa Salvatore drove to this stall somewhere in Pasir Mas where it is said to be the best and authentic Akok made and sold. Of course, Pinkydoodles and I (and our uncle) tagged along.

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Man, I wished I had tagged this on a GPS or something so that I can locate this place again! Papa Salvatore bought all that there was at the stall!

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Mmmm… akok is best when it is freshly off the grill. Akok is kind of a ‘kuih’ popular in the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. It is made of eggs, flour, coconut milk and sugar. There is a lot of egg yolks in Akok, thus it is somewhat like a fusion of custard and pastry… cooked in a metal grill mold  (something like a  takoyaki pan).

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So the end result is a sweet caramelised skin on the outside, and custard-pudding-like texture on the inside. So good!

-M.

P for Pulasan!

Pulasan, ripe

Pulasan

What is this red, thick-skinned and slightly spiky tropical fruit?

Is a rambutan? Is it a lychee? Or some bizarre mini red durian?

No… it’s Pulasan!

*cricket chirps*

If you don’t know what a pulasan is, I don’t blame you. Heck, this fruit is indigenious to Malaysia and South-East Asia in general, but most locals don’t even know that it exists either, much less what it tastes like.

Anyway, if I were writing some expat-explores-Malaysia blog, I’d probably start talking about the scientific name and whats not, but hey, the link to Wikipedia is already up there. I’m not in the mood to repeat stuff I don’t need to repeat.

I’d run into pulasan a few times before, but this is the first time I’ve seen it for a long while, so I bought some. But I am starting a story in the middle… let start from the beginning.

So yeah I went for a hike up Broga Hill and after hiking me and the biking group I was with decided to whip out our folding bikes and go explore Pekan Broga on bike.

Shame it was so hot, but we did run into an interesting stall:

I love poky little stalls like these, especially when they sell local produce. So after we caught our breath from trying to bike up the evil hill slope we toddled over to spend some money.

Most of the produce is local, so we have, from top left to bottom right: Papaya, Wild Durian, Sweet Potato and our topic of today, Pulasan, which was promptly mistaken for rambutans by most of my group.

Anyway, I decided to buy some home, along with those wild durians, but fortunately (or unfortunately) I was spared having to figure out how to carry durians and one kilo of pulasan on my non-carrier fitted bike down the hill and all along the route back to where we had left our cars. The calvary showed up, and the appearance of our backup vehicle meant my purchases could hitch a ride.

Cycling with a durian dangling from each handlebar would have made for a great picture though.

Back home, I opened up the pulasan for a try. The technique is identical to the rambutan opening technique: make a little break in the thick skin with a thumb or forefinger, (the pulasan skin is thicker than the rambutan’s), then twist the skin with your wrists turning in opposite directions. The weakness you introduced in the break should let the skin break off like so:

As you can see this thing does look heck a lot like rambutan, down the inside fruit. I prefer it to rambutan though, the flesh is sweeter, thicker and doesn’t have the annoying peeling skin thing. Also, the lack of hair is definitely a plus. Not as messy.

For bonus points, the seed of the pulasan is edible!

It tastes quite nice, kind of like a green, raw almond nut. I wonder if I can collect enough pulasan seeds next time? I could roast them and try and make pulasan butter or something…

Incidentally,I just noticed the local naming scheme for tropical fruits. Duri-an (Malay: duri = thorn), Rambutan (Malay: rambut = hair) and Pulasan (Malay: pulas = twist). So logical.

I wish we kept our naming scheme more consistent across more fruits. Imagine the possibilities…

-Pinkydoodles