A couple of weeks ago Dave spent a few days in Medan. In addition to working hard and eating very well, he managed to carve out a few early morning hours to spend roaming the city's main market. It's a good one, he says, sprawling and colorful, bustling and noisy. Just the sort of place to get a photographer's creative juices flowing.
One of the more interesting pieces of produce he encountered is this pink, slightly hairy, knobby fruit.
It's a buah assam (sour fruit) of some sort, used, he was told, as a souring agent in sambals (chile 'dips') and soups. We've never seen anything like it, and we don't know its Indonesian name. Dave purchased a specimen and packed it back to Kuala Lumpur so that I could have a gander.
The fruit's individual segments are easily separated from its woody core. Cut open, they reveal a whitish, almost translucent flesh studded with tiny black seeds. The flesh is tart as tamarind, but fragrant enough to remind one of mangosteen. The seeds seem edible.
But - what is it? And how exactly is it used? Are the seeds eaten or separated from the flesh. Is it found elsewhere in Southeast Asia? Perhaps an Indonesian or other southeast Asian reader can fill us in. If not, we should have some answers in a few weeks as, happily, we're headed to northern Sumatra, including Medan, come Chinese New Year.