I shared with a Facebook Group in Sarawak in the following manner and that spelt out how I felt issuing this post. It attracted quite a number of likes and comments in the post. From what is being discussed, one can conclude that it is a special type of sour brinjal well liked by most Sarawakians be it male or female and from all races. At least none explicitly said that they do not like.
it has become a common hand gifts or items to bring back from Sarawak for Sarawakian residing overseas. Most of them treat them very preciously and the method of cooking is basically the same, with fish or at time with other seafood.
In that post, there are some interesting discussion of planting this sour brinjal elsewhere besides Borneo island particularly Sarawak. Some member in Australia and West Malaysia said that they have ever planted the plant, the plant is healthy but they refused to bear fruits. Planting this plant is easy, the seeds are plenty and we just need to throw the seeds in a pot. I can understand what they are talking about because I have ever planted in Singapore many years ago and just like what they said, they refused to bear fruits. Initially, I thought that because I lived in an apartment and there is not enough soil and therefore it did not bear fruit..
I also pre-post the images of fruit in Indonesian Facebook Group.. i was also surprised that only Kalimantan Indonesian knew the fruits as Terong Assam . Apparently, Jakarta and Sumatra also do not have these fruits. If there is, it is imported in Kalimantan and it is pricey. Don’t asked me why it cannot be planted elsewhere .. I am unable to answer to this special phenomenon and I am only sharing on “what I heard” without scientific evidence. If it is not true, why is there no such fruits being sold in West Malaysia or Java or Sulawesi?
The name of this fruit in Sarawak is called terong Dayak but the name of in Indonesia is Terong assam. It was associated with Dayak because it is one of the wild fruits that was well loved by them and possibly discovered by them. Dayak is a native in Borneo and one of the major races in Sarawak. It was associated with assam (literally translated as tamarind) because the fruit is sour.
I was told that the scientific name is Solanum Lasiocarpum. Since it was not sold in Singapore, I have been hunting around for alternatives of this fruit. I did found something that look like this fruit in Singapore usually used by India and Thai curry, but the fruits are very small as shown in the picture above. One Sarawak member remarked that their Indian or Thai cousin (fruits) did not yield the same type of texture as those found in Sarawak.
This is a unique fruit, it is green but when it is ripe, it turns beautiful orangey yellow… If you keep it too long for say one month, it will start to have some wrinkles due to water vapour loss.. Don’t worry, the fruit is rather hard and tender and it is unlikely that it will rot. It have some small white hair that is not really noticeable on the skin.
When you cut open the fruits, if the inside is not orangey, it means that it is not fully ripe yet as is in the picture below. There are a lot of small seeds inside the cavity . Unsure of the reasons, the fruit is always cut in wedges
I was told that it is these seeds that make the soup tangy . I have yet to verify as I always clear off the seeds before I cooked. But quite a number of members remarked that they cooked the whole fruits with the seeds on to preserve the tanginess.
Some Indonesian members from other provinces besides Kalimantan is asking me if there is a need to peel the skin… I usually don’t and I have never heard of anybody did that to this fruit. The fruit if simmered long enough and when the flesh becomes soft, the skin will just drop off like the picture below.
It is a rather standard recipe that this fruit is commonly cooked with seafood notably fishes be it in Kalimantan or Sarawak. Chinese usually used fishes that cannot be steamed because of the fishy smell such as tenggiri, black pomfret , ikan kembong, ikan selar and etc. The standard ingredients are: chilli, lemon grass and onion. It was also either cooked with belachan or anchovies or dry shrimps. Look at the picture in details and you will find the ingredients..
Well, even without this special fruit, readers outside Sarawak and Kalimantan can also use this recipe to cook this tangy fish dish… What you lack is the fruit, but the fruit in it self has no flavour except its tanginess and therefore, without the fruit , fish can also be cooked this way. Tamarind can be added to provide tanginess. However, if you have friends coming from Sarawak, you can always ask them to buy some for you and you can try this slightly slimy fruits with very unique texture.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings : 4-6 adult servings
- 2 sour brinjal aka terung Dayak or terong Assam
- 2 big onions
- 3 red chillies
- 10 chillies padi (optional)
- 3 lemon grass stalk
- 500 grams of fish of your choice
- 2 tablespoons of anchovies
- 1 tablespoon of belachan or shrimp paste
- 1 tablespoon of tamarind paste (optional)
- Salt to taste
- Sugar to taste
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Wash the sour brinjal, cut the fruit in wedges and place it in a big bowl with water. Use your fingers into the cavity and dig out the seeds. Drain and set aside. Note that this step is optional. Some household does not clean the seeds.
- Use something hard to pound the lemon grass slightly. Cut the onion into big wedges. Cut the chilli into big pieces.
- Bring a pot of water to boil. Add in the sour brinjal, lemon grass, belachan, onion, chilli, chilli padi and anchovies. Bring to boil and let it simmer the fruit for 20-25 minutes when the fruits are soft and skin starts to curl upwards. Add the seasonings (salt and sugar) and taste if it is tangy enough, if not add the tamarind paste. After tasting, add the fish and once the fish is cooked (about 5 minutes), off the heat and the dish is best served with white rice.
I knew many readers will have no assess to this special fruit. I have decided to share this recipe as a record of my Sarawak recipe bank. Once again, if you like sour and spicy gravy, you can always used the same method to cook fish of your choice. Trust me, it is a delicious and addictive seafood dish. Without the fruit, you will need to have add tamarind to make it tangy.
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