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.
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 nut 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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