29 November, 2009

Smoking the "Cempedak " fruit

A fish-eye view 0f a fruiting "Cempedak " tree.


Now that the seasons of the " Cempedak" fruit is nearing its end, I'm thinking of how I can continue to enjoy its flavour come next year. The "Cempedak" is a close relative of the jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus). While the jackfruit is native to India, the cempedak is native to Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra and the Sulawesi Islands. Being cauliflorous, the cempedak ( Artocarpus integer) bears its flowers and fruits on the trunks. The above picture is taken from my eco-farm in Bintulu. I have a dozen of these 50-plus years old trees which never fail to produce fruits on yearly basis. This year the fruiting has been heavy and started sometime in September. The cempedak has a pliable, soft and supple outer skin. The fruit flesh or aril is yellow to golden in colour (see inset). Its aril is soft, tender, succulent and slippery. If you have the chance to eat the aril, remember not to swallow the seed. Just consume the flesh. The seed which is large brown has a papery covering. When boiled the seeds are eaten with honey or sugar. Others prefer to deep fry the aril with flour and taken with tea or coffee just like one enjoy the banana fritters.
Today, I'll just try to smoke the flesh so that I can store it for a few months past February or March next year. Below is how to do it.

After separating the seed, the aril is left to dry in open sun which may take half a day or a full day, depending on the intensity of the sunlight. Arrange them on a mesh for faster drying.

After drying, the aril is smoked and this may take about 4 hours to produce the best result.

Smoked cempedak or "Likeng"

In Bintulu we call smoked cempedak as " Likeng". Slice the likeng into small pieces and store them in containers. They can last for months, say about 4-6 months and still retain the strong fermented flavour of the cempedak. In Bintulu, the Melanaus eat them with "sagu" or sago pellets for afternoon tea or any other occasion. And I love them sugary and honey taste.



27 November, 2009

Friends Droppin' By?

It was a real surprise the other day. Mama Daisy was growling and snarling. Something was amiss. What could it be? I kept jumping higher and settled at the top of the bookcase. When Mama Daisy made noises, fospa checked what's happening. First, one came out of hiding. Then a second came into the limelight. Soon a family came to town ( see inset). " The kittens look very cute", said fospa. Fospa decided that they should be allowed a temporary stay at the veranda for a while until the two kittens are weaned out from their milking. I'm not particularly happy with the arrangement because I'll not be free to roam around the veranda. I am not ready to call them friends yet. They are stray cats and probably belong to some one. Anyway, I don't have much choice. For the time being both me and Mama Daisy will just avoid the veranda. We don't want trouble, do we?

First one out of hiding

The second coming


Remember me Inul?

For more stories about me and Mama Daisy, check it out here at :
Alternatively, scroll over the label in this blog and click Hav Paws Will Travell to know the latest news.
Bye, for now.

Against the Blue Sky



This morning the sky over the farm looks very clear and blue. The above subjects are taken against the blue sky. In Bintulu at this time of the year, the skies would normally be cloudy, and dark grey because of the rainy season. However, this morning the weather took to a better turn.
I will not be surprised if towards the evening the sky would turn grey and ready to pour down the annual end or year heavy downpours as it did yesterday and the day before.

24 November, 2009

We were once kids

Young kids at Kampung Jepak playing in the rain . Date: 24Nov'09.
The season of rains is back in Sarawak. It's an annual recurrence and makes me wonder how the rhythm of the rains, its appearance and then flight makes me count for granted the passing of time and the sureness of another year. This afternoon, time took me to a rehearsal of the days when I was just like those innocent, energetic and joyously happy kids playing and running on the village football field. Rain or shine the "We" feeling of comradeship among friends we grew up with are something I always treasure. Passing by the village football field I thought how fortunate I was when I joined my primary then secondary school soccer teams. For a young and tiny kid wearing a football jersey and representing the school in a local soccer league is a mountain of achievement. It happened to me in 1965 when our school won the soccer league. A small black and white photograph that captured the proud moment of achievement is shown below.
The Bintulu Government Secondary School soccer team with the prized trophy. I'm the tiny kid at the front row, second from left, executing a perfect pose. Date : 1965 . The tall white gentleman at the back is our referee, a Dutchman by the name of Mr. Brentjens who happened to be a Catholic missionary teacher at St. Anthony's School where I completed my primary schooling in 1963.

23 November, 2009

21,000 km & a season of fruits


Me ( Inul ) and Mama Daisy on our travelling cushion



"This is Mama Daisy's 18th trip to Bintulu and I'm on board to achieve our new record of 21,000 kilometers of road journey from Bintulu to Kuching and vice versa", said Inul. This time around Sarawak is in the midst of its year- end season of fruits and our travel was made more interesting with the countless pit stops along the Pan Borneo Highway. Fospa took this opportunity to savour the rich variety of fruits available. On this trip fospa first stopped at a handicraft shop situated after the town of Serian ( see inset), which is just about quarter of our journey. From the shop fospa bought a small rattan basket that will be used to keep our food for long journeys in future.
Inside the village handicraft shop. At the middle foreground is the rattan basket fospa bought for us.


Above is close up of 'rambutan' fruits of yellow variety planted next to the handicraft shop, and below red rambutans planted by the roadside somewhere along the middle half of our 12 hours journey i.e. near Sarikei town.


Entering Sibu town. From here it took us about 3 hours to reach Bintulu.
ETD Kuching : 8.45 am
ETA Bintulu : 8.30 pm
18th trip to Bintulu - 18/11/09
For more stories of how we started this journey of our life time , please click on the link below:

Nan Bread


Today I managed to try something new called " Roti Nan". ' Roti' is Malay for bread. 'Nan' isn't Malay but is Pakistani for pancake cooked in a clay oven. A short Q & A with the Pakistani cook had me convinced that this type of bread/ pancake is good for health because there is no frying with oil in order to cook it. Instead the dough is slapped onto the hot inner walls of the big gas-fried clay oven ( see inset). With the aid of two long iron rods the Pakistani cook quickly removed the hot bread from the oven and then with the speed of light sliced the bread, sprinkled some pieces of garlic and spread butter on it. Next came a small plate of yellow "dhall" beans ( see picture below) as a final dressing to the show. It's refreshing to know that Bintulu has 'roti nan', something unheard of say five years ago. It's a sign that Bintulu is catching up in one respect. And there are Pakistani cooks in Bintulu.

Gas-fired clay oven

My afternoon break with 'roti nan ' served with garlic, butter and 'dhall' beans costing RM 3.00 a plate. Cheap for a healthy food.




18 November, 2009

A Fruitsome Journey


Woke up this morning (19/11) to the sounds of crickets and birds. We left Kuching yesterday at 8.30 am and arrived Bintulu around 8.00 pm after a 12 hours journey by road. My normal duration for the Kuching- Bintulu journey has generally been 10 hours, but on this trip I let the hours drifted by for the main reason that this is the end of the year and I will not want to miss the little details that should be enjoyed along the Pan Borneo Highway. The end of the year is a moment I look forward to because if one were to drive the length of the Pan Borneo Highway, the sights and tastes of the local seasonal fruits are not to be missed. Because I made so many pit stops along the highway to see and sometimes buy many of the fruits available by the roadside the journey was a pleasant, exciting and fruitful one. Below are shots I took for the world to share. (Inset: Our pick up refuelling at Sibu with the rainbows in view, three quarters of journey covered)


The rambutans ( Nephelium lappaceum) has soft hairs and come in two main colours - yellow and red. I recall that in India , rambutans are highly priced as wedding gifts and Singaporeans export these fruits overseas and re-brand them as " Singapore Lychee". And the best part of the story is that small island of Singapore does not have land to plant rambutan trees but obtain them from Malaysian farms which are just across the channel. Does it prove that Malaysians are good producers but Singaporeans better marketers? Anyway, I price most the wild species of rambutans that still grow in my eco-farm here at Bintulu.


Most rambutans ( Note: In Malay 'rambut' means hairs ) that are grown now are hybrid species to make them more marketable and the better clones should provide the following characteristics: thin outer skin, thick flesh, fruits skin is easy to open by an effortless slight twist, glorious red colour or golden colour, sweet tasting, juicy, seed small and the flesh ( or aril) easily peeled off from seed without the seed cover stuck to the flesh and long shelf life. Well, let the scientists sort out the details. One thing is for sure , don't clone one without hairs. It will not be a called a rambutan fruit.

You can buy fresh green peppers by the roadside. Sarawak's climate is ideal for pepper growing but requires very intensive care especially from diseases and as such is appropriately grown on a family basis. At today's price, black pepper fetches RM 8,700 per tonne ( Bintulu price) and white pepper ( processed) fetches RM 15,100 per tonne. However, considering the tiny size of the pepper fruits, the amount you need to collect before you could sell them makes it obvious that you need to be a bundle of patience, have stacks of money to buy inputs especially fertilisers, weedicides and pesticides that don't come cheap, and luck against diseases, weather, world ups and downs in pepper commodity prices to get rich. No short cut! and as one friend of mine commented " What ? You are in to farming? It's just buying fertilisers and letting the rain wash them away !" Oh, yes talking about the rains, this time around the journey was met with slight rains for about one third of the journey and the rest of the way was cloudy skies.
LS of the 'mata kuching' fruit tree. The name " Kuching", the capital of Sarawak comes from this fruit according to one theory. Another theory says that the name of Kuching City derives from the local Malay word for cat i.e. Kuching. Now if the first theory is correct, Kuching is not cat, afterall.

CU of the ' mata kuching' fruit ( Euphoria malaiense)

Lucky, lucky me. A fruiting " Engkabang" tree.
And finally I consider myself extremely lucky to see a fruit- bearing "Enkabang" tree near Sebangkoi, Sarikei town. Locally the fruits are eaten fresh in various ways e.g. salad, vegetable, etc. There is however a novel way the people of Sarawak take this fruit. They boil the fruits for its oil and then prepare it in the form of a cake that will last for years at room temperature. They are then eaten with hot rice to make the rice tastes better, more fragrant and healthy because the 'melted' enkabang cake dispenses the flavour of the fruit just like when you apply butter on roasted bread. After you rub the 'engkabang' cake and melt some away, the rest of the cake can be kept for future use. It's so very practical because you don't need to place it inside a fridge like you do the butter or cheese.
Why did I say I was lucky to come across the " Engkabang" tree fruit? Engkabang trees are of the 'dipeterocarps' species and are considered giants of the rain forests. Dipterocarp comes from the Greek word to mean ' two-winged seeds'. But the tree I saw has more than two wings. Some of these fruits can have 3- 5 wings. These wings make them look like badminton shuttlecocks. And lucky enough I met them at this point in my life!. The reason being these helicopter wings are produced once is sixty (60) years! Well, now I can claim in future that in my lifetime I did see a fruiting Engkabang tree once. Once is good enough. Now if the engkabang fruit drops and gets caught on the branches of trees and other obstacles and does not hit fertile grown soon, the fruits and seed will be spent and no chance to propagate itself. It has been acknowledged that it takes a 60 years cycle for an engkabang tree to flower and because the requirements of germination from new seeds the natural way is very stringent that it takes this species one century to spread over a kilometer radius. Strange but true. And to make the matter worse, this tree species is one of the most marketable species for tropical hardwoods export from Sarawak that they are increasingly hunted for their logs than their fruits. For now you can kiss tropical biodiversity goodbye.






04 November, 2009

Durians on My Back


Just a quick note. I'm back in Kuching. But wait, not till I get a load of durians. That's just what I did yesterday (4/11) when we stopped by the Pan Borneo Highway after Sri Aman ( see inset). There were many fruit stalls set up temporarily by the roadside offering a range of local seasonal fruits at this time of the year. It's indeed a season of fruits in Sarawak right now and this will continue till end of December. More stories later.


A smiling vendor with happy customers selling an assortment of fruits near Sibu. There were pomelos, bananas, oranges, dragon fruits, Malay apple fruits, mangosteen, rambutans, etc..

I have so many favourites when it comes to local fruits. Above is the yellow durians called "Nyekak" by the local Ibans and next to it is the "Rambutan" fruit.
My kind of a fruit party.

The journey to Kuching this time around was fine all the way, except for a punctured tyre before arriving Selangau which was duly repaired in time for the next three quarters leg of the journey. Despite the rainy season, we didn't encounter a single drop of rain over the 10 hours journey. We left Bintulu ( with the cats) at 9.00 am and by 7.00 pm was at our front gate in Kuching, and so very grateful that we made it safely.





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