Thursday, April 2, 2009

belimbing assam

there is no english name for this fruit but the belimbing assam is a little similar in appearance to the star fruit. the only differences are the size and taste; it is smaller and more sour than the star fruit. apart from this, belimbing assam is also distinguishable by its smooth, unridged, yellowish-green skin, looking a little like a pickle. juicy and acidic, this fruit is used in singapore and malaysia for making pickles which is known in malay as "sunti"; in curries; and stewed as a vegetable.

unlike the star fruit, belimbing assam has less market value and is not exported. it is normally grown in the yard for home use. the belimbing is generally regarded as too acid for eating raw, but in costa rica, the green, uncooked fruit is prepared as a relish which is served with rice and beans. sometimes it is an accompaniment for fish and meat. ripe fruits are frequently added to curries in the far east.

the juice is popular for making cooling beverages in the order of lemonade. mainly, the belimbing is used in place of mango to make chutney, and it is much preserved. to reduce acidity, it may be first pricked and soaked in water overnight, or soaked in salted water for a shorter time; then it is boiled with much sugar to make a jam or an acid jelly. the latter, in malaysia, is added to stewed fruits that are oversweet.

there are three of this fruit tree growing on the patch just next to my block. they form part of the landscape and were planted even before we moved in in 1998. no one seems to be harvesting the fruit. sometimes, however, we do see the foreign workers helping themselves to the fruit. after all, if they are not picked, they go to waste.

the belimbing can be cooked with sambal tumis or sambal mix. wash the belimbing. slice off a bit of the top to remove the stalk. cut the belimbing in half. soaked in hot water. drain the water. add lots of sugar to the belimbing. mix well. fry chopped onion, then add in the sambal paste. add in the belimbing. you may add prawns for the extra flavour. my malay friend, a former colleague, says: sedap, with mussels.

the finished product


unk Dicko said...

It's good that you have this belimbing tree in open grounds near your block, YG. Many of today's and even yesterday's youngsters did not know about the fruit...that it was edible!
At Serangoon Sec previous location in Lowland Road, there was a similar tree below the office frontage. One day, during the recess break, I happened to stand beside the tree and just plucked a few ripe ones to eat. The students who saw me were aghast! They ran to me ( I was new to them then)and shouted out," Sir...don't eat! It's POISONOUS!" Haha! So much for all Nparks and other agencies efforts in educating our kids today.
I told this story to the whole staff, at staff contact time.Someone said," Goondoo students ..lah". I said it wasn't their fault. No one told them so.

JollyGreenP said...

You've got me drooling here at the sight and thought of that sambal! Unfortunately many youngsters only seem to know fruit they can see on stalls or in the supermarket for sale. Here in the UK nobody seems to gon out picking Blackberries or brambles like we did when we were younger. Fruit is just left on the thorny vines to drop off and spread the growth of the brambles. I remember at the age of seven my mother finding a productive patch of brambles with our seaside sand buckets to pick the fruit into and then going home to boil up the fruit with sugar, strain and make bramble jelly. Unfortunately the patch of brambles on our allotment site has now been cleared with the increased demand for plots so I am going to have to go further afield this year to find brambles.

yg said...

dick, true, children today do not know much about local fruit. today, on our way to the sembawang hot spring, we walked past a jambu ayer tree. ripe fruits littered the ground. some fruits were so low that anyone could reach out to pick them.
the park contractor happened to be around, so we asked him for the rationale behind the policy of not allowing ordinary residents to pluck the fruit. his answer was that we might be eating fruit which could have been sprayed with pesticide.

yg said...

john, i found out from chun see that you enjoy spicy food. if your next visit coincides with the fruiting season of the belimbing, we can have home-cooked sambal belimbing.

peter said...

Mayb next time u want to survey supermarkets, the fruit section? I heard GIANT and Carrfour good.

Lam Chun See said...

Don't be too harsh on the youngsters of today, becos even I don't know about belimbing. Recently a church friend brought a packet of belimbing leaves and said that if you boil and it and drink the water, its good for lowering high blood pressure. Is it the same tree?

Only then did I realise that my neighbour has one in his backyard.

unk Dicko said...

Exactly, C See. There are still many things we don't know about..what more the young people. But older folks should teach them when the situation arises. A good place to start is to get them to read blogs like this one. YG has done a great job here...but I suppose most kids won't know about blogs like this. Maybe, just maybe we can do something about it huh?
Btw, mentioned "jambu ayer" on your trip to hotspring.What about "jambu mawah"?
Did you come across any or seen any?
I have not seen this fruit or tree since my late parents' kampong were all demolished by the late 80's. The fruit is always yellowish/light green when ripe. Has an incredibly attractive scent..that's why it's called "mawah".
I would dearly love to taste it again! A fruit of my kampong days.

yg said...

chun see, the leaves are quite small. i have not heard this use (in reducing blood pressure) of the belimbing leaf before.

yg said...

dick, i too ate this fragrant fruit when i was a kid, and i still get to eat it. along neo tiew crescent - the road leading to sungei buloh - there are jambu mawah on both sides of the road. once i picked some and let my 69-year old friend try it. imagine he had not eaten it before. i have blogged about it here