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Dried asam keping are used in southern Thai cooking, and are known as som khaek. I believe they're related to mangosteen. I've never seen the fresh fruit though!


I am pretty sure that cendawan kukur = Schizophyllum sp. (probably Schizophyllum commune). Here's something from Tom Volk about it:


I have sent a link to the above post to our friend Leon Shernoff of the journal "Mushroom" and have asked him to confirm this.

I was very surprised to see Schizophyllum commune in the great mushroom markets of Yunnan when I travelled through that province last month: this fungus is not considered of much gastronomic interest in my part of the world. But then dozens of the mushrooms prized by the Yunnanese are considered barely edible in the US/Europe. This is true for instance of the astonishing Sarcodon, which commands a price equal to that of the highest-grade matsutakes.

Would love it if you could dig up a recipe for cendawan kukur, perhaps for publication in Leon's magazine:


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Asam gelugor is indeed related to mangosteen, another Garcinia. It is also related to kokum, which is one of the distinctive souring agents in Malayalee (i.e. "Keralan") cooking (for more on kokum, see my old (circa 2002) posts on Chowhound and egullet). It is possible that som khaek comes from a diff variety of Garcinia than the "buah" pictured above, but I will investigate. Wild species of Garcinia are also used in Filipino country cooking, but these fruits are obscure, little-known and can be found only rarely in provincial markets.

Re: ikan salai

Related to your ikan keli are the enormous smoked tunas (called "bakas") which are specialties of the markets of Marawi City (Mindanao). A picture of these skewered "bakas" are in the Marawi City section of the Centro Escolar University "Philippine Markets" book.

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Love to see a mackerel can used as the standard of measurement in the first picture (of cendawan kukur). Likewise, in Mexican markets (such as those of Guerrero or Morelos state), a sardine can might be used to measure out "una sardina" of beans or squash seeds. In the Philippines, it might be "isang salmon" or "isang litse" (litse = leche, i.e. evaporated milk)...

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By the way, the ikan sembilang is "keli bunga" and not ikan "keli Afrika" that you'll get in Minangkabau restaurants in KL. If you "salai" the ikan keli found in those restaurants, the meat wouldn't get to be firm as the ones you bought in Tanjong Ipoh.

And a suggestion; to make the coconut milk more "even" in the "gulai", break the milking process into two parts. The first round of milk squeezed is called the "kepala". This you should add to the "gulai" a few minutes before finishing. The second round of milk squeezed is the one that should be put in the initial cooking of the "gulai".


Ikan sembilang salai is called ikan sale in Medan. I miss gulai ikan sale with daun ubi tumbuk.

I want that asam gelugur :D


i love your posts! you've made me seriously hungry. I'm filipino so living here in Seattle makes me crave for filipino food that I don't get to eat often. And seeing dishes from other asian countries makes me want to try them out all the more.


Here's some information on one species of Garcinia used as souring agent in the cooking of Negros Occidental (and some parts of Panay):


It's called batwan here, although Doreen Fernandez spells it batuan (ba-tu-an) which makes the etymology much more apparent (batu being the stone inside the fruit).

The picture of this Philippine Garcinia species reminded me of the lightly sourish Thai mayom fruit (sometimes called gooseberry) but it turned out that mayom is Phyllanthus, something completely different. Pickled mayom in jars are widely available in US Thai groceries. The Philippine name for ma yom is bangkiling or sometimes iba (and there's a picture of bangkiling in the Margarita Fores recipes section of the Philippine Markets book). Dried chum ruot (the Vietnamese name) is made into a lovely sweet drink called mut chum (widely available here in Chicago Vietnamese groceries).

Other fruits used by Southeast Asian for souring or simply enjoyed for their sourness include makok farang (Spondias, a hogplum, called trai coc in Vietnam), gratorn (santol), tamarind of course, the balimbing, kamias, mamuang dib of course (unripe mangoes) etc



BTW the last Philippine fruit in the list I linked to above (the tiessa) is almost certainly related (if not identical) to the "dien taw" you posted about not too long

According to "Philippine Markets", bakas is a Maranao delicacy that is cooked with coconut milk, chayote leaves and spices (the text does not specify which spices). It is also flaked, mixed with eggs and palapa (ginger and chili) and formed into patties for deep-frying (the indigenization perhaps of Iberian codfish cakes?)


Thanks all. Jem, I'm going to make a note in the post for pple to have a look at yr comment so they can prepare a more refined gulai than I gave directions for (I suppose my version is the lazy one). ;-)

Pepy - we're firming up dates for Medan ... and now I have another dish to look for, thanks to you.

RST - SE Asian souring agents. Worth pursuing as a topic on its own (I understand latest Saveur has sth on 'sour' in Asian food including sinigang - but lime is used). We came across the gooseberries in Thailand. Also makhaw -- yellowish small mango-shaped fruit used in N for souring.

Sulawesi is also known for smoked tuna. Reason enough to plan a trip, I think. ;-)


Hey Robyn and Dave,

You think that we could get the international (read: "New York") food press buzzing over "souring agent" in 2007? I got the latest issue of the Batterberry's Food Arts a few days ago and was looking through (and rolling my eyes at) the year-end list of buzzwords and trends for 2006. I thought to myself: "sour power" should be in there! ;0)



What a surprise to find my name on your blog....bangkiling is something I have only come across used in the cooking from my province of Negros Occidental...an aunt of mine who hails from Colombia, was thrilled to find them growing here in Manila whe she married my Filipino uncle in the 60's...I dont remeber what she called them but she says they eat it with salt in Colombia....iba on the other hand, is the Ilonggo name for kamias, and is an oval shaped souring fruit....batwan is also widely used in Negros four souring our sinigangs....what an informative blog this is


Marghi - thanks for your informative comments! Welcome and please keep those comments coming, in other posts....



Thanks for your comments on bangkiling. The dish with the bangkiling in your section of the Philippines Markets book looks very beautiful. Is Pinamalhan nga isda kag bangkiling the only Illonggo dish that uses bangkiling, or are there other famous dishes? In fact, the whole spread on that page is very beautiful; the use of the nautilus-like cross-section of banana pith as garnish, as well as the curlicues of rolled lumpia skin surrounding the "naked" (hubad) lumpia of heart of palm being specially striking. I approve of the layer of oil floating on top of the various stews in the picture, and am glad that the food stylist did not think of skimming that off before photographing it!!!

Incidentally, cendawan kukur is almost certainly the same fungus as the prized kurakding AKA kurakdeng of the Bicol region (Philippines). (There is an account of photographer Neil Oshima searching for kurakding in the Dorotan/Besa book). At the time this was first posted, there was a flurry of backdoor emails discussing the exact nature of cendawan kukur, but somehow those notes were never transferred to this forum. Leon Shernoff noted in private email that Schizophyllum (the so-called split gill fungus) is also a prized mushroom among headhunters in Borneo (see the article "Mushroom-hunting with headhunters" by Lawrence Millman, Mushroom, Spring 2006). Apparently, Schizophyllum was served to the author of that article as a garnish for roasted python!!!!



Negeri Sembilan is where most Minangkabau from West Sumatra settled in Malaysia, right? I wonder if they kept their Matrilineal system (because not like in Indonesia, under Malaysian law, they are simply "Malays").


Hello there... nice picture taken at pasar sentul..
it brings old memories to me...
Im was born and grow up in Sentul.
Its exciting to know that people love sentul as much as I do.

Blog Keren

Salam kenal...i have write about my wife's cooking. please enjoy...


Hi. I'm Ekhwan and I came across your blog as I was searching about my hometown, Tanjung Ipoh (Negeri Sembilan).

May I know your source for the picture of the Minang-inspired house? It is my grandma's and I'm happy to know that it is featured somewhere in the cyberspace.

Next time you're around, gimme a shout, ya? :)


Hello Ekhwan -- it's a small world, thanks to the internet! The photo was taken by the photographer half of EatingAsia, David Hagerman. We live in Penang now, but at the time of our visit we lived in Kuala Lumpur. Have not been back to Ngeri Sembilan since, unfortunately.
If you're on Instagram you can follow David at @davehagerman. A mix of photos from Turkey, Malaysia and elsewhere in Asia.
Thanks for reading!

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