More nuts from Sarawak jungle – part 3

Melinjau is an interesting nut shared by  both Sarawakians and Indonesians.The young fruits are green in colour and turn to different shades of yellow to red on ripening.The fruit is rich in potassium with 624 mg per 100 g of fresh edible portion.At first glance,these fruits look like bigger version of ripe pepper berries.

Melinjau fruits on ripening turns to different shades of yellow to red colour.

The green and unripe fruits are sold in local markets and cooked as vegetable. .All we have to do is boil the seeds and remove the green skin to reveal a white and soft nuts inside.The nuts of unripe seeds are tender and nutty and are well sought after by local Indonesian restaurants for cooking sayur asam or curry.This Indonesian vegetarian soup requires  sweetcorns or baby corns, long beans, daun sabong and those skinned unripe nuts of melinjau.Add asam keping or belimbing asam and dry chillies to this soup and boil for at least 15 minutes.Add salt to taste.It is so delicious.

Unripe melinjau
Unripe melinjau

The green melinjau can be boiled and eaten with the skin.Some of us prefer to eat them without the skin.The skinned nuts of melinjau look like groundnuts but taste different.It has a tint of bitterness and good flavor.The picture below shows the skinned unripe melinjau nuts.


Skinned nuts of melinjau.

The steps of preparing the keropok are as follow:- First they boil the fruits, remove the outer skin.There is still another layer of shell-like skin left as shown in the picture below.They then toast the nuts on a iron cast pan.Using a small hammer,they hammer a few hot nuts together until the skin comes off and the nuts flattened to become one piece of cracker.These are then dried in the sun.

Mature melinjau seeds
Mature melinjau seeds

Ripe fruits are quite tough and taste more bitter than the unripe fruits.They are not suitable for cooking sayur asam.They have a layer of tough skin enclosing the nuts inside.This layer of skin is soft for the unripe fruits so can be eaten together with the cooked nuts.For ripe fruits,this layer of skin has to be peeled off.The more ripe they are,the more bitter they become.The ripe nuts are for making Keropok melinjau or simply called Emping Belinjo in Indonesia.Keropok melinjau is very popular in Kuching.Usually local Chinese would prepare a tin or two of this deep fried crackers for Chinese New Year.

Keropok emping
Super thick Keropok melinjau with chilli flakes.

The best emping melinjau which is thick and fragrant, can be found at Serikin,the border town of Bau area. After deep fried, these aromatic nutty cracker tastes super delicious with a tint of bitter taste and rich flavour.Eating them together with nasi lemak or nasi Briyani is simply an experience you won’t forget.Nobody should complaint of its high price for this super cracker considering the tedious work the Indonesian mothers done to prepare it.

Keropok Emping from Kalimantan.
Keropok melinjau from Kalimantan.

Another interesting thing about melinjau is its leaves which is called daun sabong which is used as a replacement of Cangkuk manis aka sweet leaf.The cultivated tree usually has light green leaves through out whereas the wild tree gives red and pink leaves with the older green leaves.

Daun Sabong
The pink and red leaves of Daun Sabong.

The red and pink leaves are young leaves which are used for stir frying with bamboo shoots or coconut shoots.The older leaves are used for cooking soup.Crumble the leaves in between fingers before cooking just like the way we cook cangkuk manis,the sweet leaves.

The picture below shows coconut shoots stir fried with duan sabong.

Daun sabong fried with coconut shoot.
Coconut shoot stir fried with daun sabong.

Another wild nuts mentioned earlier in my last post is the jering.In Sarawak,we have Jering padi which is smaller and rounder in size.They look brownish in color.The nuts of Jering padi are less bitter than the regular flat Jering(jering papan).

Baskets of Jerings
Jering in baskets for sale in market.

Simply boil the nuts for 1 hour and eat with gula apong.As I have mentioned earlier,Jering is not as popular as Petai which is also slightly bitter but the nuts are crunchy and having rich flavor.Never miss petai if anyone of you visit Malaysia.

Boiled jerings from the market.

After all these posts about nuts,I really become nuts ! But if viewers think that is all about nuts,then you are very wrong.I still have one nut to go but enough of all these nuts for the time being !

Bye bye nuts ! Its time to do some wild vegetables.Hee……………..ha……!




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Have you seen those rare nuts from Sarawak rainforest (part 2) ?

Being the most controversial jungle produce of our homeland, kepayang the football fruit (Pangium edule Reinw) is well liked by the Ibans here and they are the people who know how to prepare the nuts which can be poisonous if eaten raw.Packets of prepared kepayang kernels which are crunchy and nutty are sold in markets.The kepayang fruits are non-seasonal.

Kepayang fruits
Kepayang fruits/football fruits

Repeated process of boiling and soaking in water can get rid of the hydrocyanide content in the nuts.Unlike the Indonesians who prepare dried buah keluak for peranakan cooking,our natives break the fruits and take out the seeds which must be boiled for at least three hours.To extract the kernels,a layer of seed coat has to be removed.With all the kernels collected,the natives continue their tedious preparation of the edible kernels for sale in the market by soaking them in several changes of water for a few days.However,it is better to boil again the Kepayang  kernels bought from the markets until no bitter taste is detected.The presence of hydro cyanide is indicated by the bitter taste.The carefully prepared nuts can then be eaten plain with salt or stir-fry with tapioca shoots or ulam.Another way of cooking is to stir-fry with long bean and dried chillies.Add brown sugar and thick soya source to taste.

Boiled kepayang nuts for sale in the market
Boiled kepayang nuts for sale in the market

Ibans who live nearby the river would collect the kepayang seeds in a gunny sack and soak it in the river for a few days.In this way,the hydrocyanide can be removed by the running water since it is soluble in water.Boiling and soaking the nuts continues after this process.

Indonesian way of preparing kepayang seeds is different.They ferment the boiled seeds in wood ash for a couple of months.The kernel then turns into a black and greasy mass which is used in cooking Peranakan curry chicken.It is called buah keluak in Indonesia.

The most interesting part of Kepayang tree is its leaves.I used to wait for Malay boat men to stop by our jetty and bought salted fish from them.My late mom would get kepayang leaves from her Iban friends,chopped the big leaves finely and mixed them with the fish.After a few weeks,she would stir fry the fish together with the shredded leaves.I just cannot forget the rich taste of the kepayang leaves,very crispy,salty and aromatic.

Here is a picture of the big kepayang leaf :

Kepayang leaf
Kepayang leaf


 Petai and Jering in local market.
Petai and Jering in local market.

There are two other local nuts which are more well known because they can be found in West Malaysia too.The green ones are Petai and the dark ones are Jering.Little is known of the white petai found growing wild in the jungle.The white petai is considered rare because it is mostly wild unlike the green petai which are semi-wild or cultivated.


White petai
White Petai

Petai seed is slightly bitter with an astringent taste and strong smell.It is surprisingly delicious when it is cooked with vegetarian belacan and chilli.People get addicted to its unique taste easily.Somehow this nut aids in digestion so it can be used as an appetizer.Our natives like to roast the long pods of petai over fire,peel the pod skin and eat the seeds with sambal belacan.Petai dish is forever popular in local restaurants and cafes.

Strings of Petai bean in market.
Strings of Petai bean in market.

Petai is more popular than Jering because it is less bitter and the nuts texture is not that tough.Jering seed has astringent taste and stronger pungent smell than the petai seeds.Most of the time we have to boil jering seeds to make it tender but in the case of petai, there is no need to boil young petai seeds.Just stir fry it with sambal or cook it in Kelabit(an ethnic group) way,i.e, stir fry with bunga kantan and chilli,add salt and lime juice.Another option is blanch all the ingredients and mix them together with salt and lime juice.

Petai stir fried with bunga kantan and chilli
Petai  mixed with bunga kantan and chilli.

Nutritional content of all these nuts can be found here.Please check my other post on Rare nuts part 1 .

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