« Milk Into Gold | Main | Duck Potatoes for the New Year »




U r lucky, anything more ostentatious & seemingly thoughtful would have been, err suspicious.

but the fruit, I am lost !


as an indonesian, I don't know either! maybe that fruit is indigenous to the Medan region only. the durian photo looks marvelous :) but the petai fruits that're hanging are more enticing than ever!


When you are at Medan, may be you could try Sate Padang. await for your review .. cheers


This looks like what is called kokum in South India - the dried peel is a common souring agent. I found a number of net references to an asem kandis used in West Sumatra which claim it is the same as kokum but they all seem to come from the same source so cannot confirm . . .


No, Garcinias are botanically very different in form. We discussed Garcinias previously here


I don't know what these buah assam are. But they sure look suspiciously like the Mexican timbiriche (Bromelia pinguin), not exactly rare, but a rather less well-known fruit of a plant in the family Bromeliacae. If these buah assam are indeed bromelias, that would put them in the same family as pineapples (Ananas comosus).

Timbiriche is also the name of a Mexican pop group:

Bromelia pinguin:


The webpages on Bromelia pinguin available on the web describe the fruit as yellow; but in fact timbiriche is often pinkish and even reddish in color.

I saw timbiriche again for the first time in years tonight at the market in Teloloapan, Guerrero. They were 5 pesos for three segments. Teloloapan is a far far away place to be reminded of the buah assam.



Here´s a description of timbiriche from another webpage:

BROMELIA PINGUIN - Wild Pineapple, Pinguin
This plant also resembles the pineapple and is used as a hedge, being 3-4' high with leaves as long as 6' but only 1½" wide and edged with spines. The fruit is a crowded head of berries (separate, not joined as in the pineapple) which look like small plums. The juice is acid and makes a good drink.

Bromelias are important textile plants in the Philippines, being the source of the piña.

On Bromeliads:



Could it have been brought to Sumatra during the colonial period as a textile plant?


Bring an image of a bromeliad the next time you go to Medan and show it to the vendor. Let´s get to the bottom of this.

By the way, the doyenne of Philippine food writers, Doreen Fernandez once wrote something to the effect that "rehabilitation (i.e. after a natural disaster; she was talking about the eruption of Pinatubo) is always first measured in markets." I´m very gratified to hear that Medan market is bustling again, if this means that the city is recovering from the tsunami...



in Indonesia this fruit is call "buah honje"
normally we only take the flower as it is very nice flavour for cooking, and in singapore they mixed with rojak.
I think most people only know the flower but not the fruit.
the fruit has a tart taste but still have a very nice frangrance and it is best for making sayur asam or head fish asam.


we only use the flower which we call as bunga kecombrang in Indonesian. It uses for some North Sumatran culinaries, such as ikan masak arsik. This bunga uses along with andaliman, asam gelugur, daun mangkokan and lokio


your husband is definitely a good photographer
I am amazed with all the great pictures in your blog and thanks for the reviews about Medan food. We appreciate all good comments on Medan :-) from the Medan People - http://www.MedanKu.com


I have downloaded this file free without registration at http://megaupload.name/


This is a delicious souring agent known as asam cekala, and it is used for Batak/Karo cooking. In English it is called torch ginger, Etlingera elatior. The flower buds are used in Malaysian cooking too, but what you see here are the seed pods, used for 'sayur asam', Karo-style.

Put them in fish dishes and they impart a delicate sour taste. Good with goldfish.


just to add, you can grow these yourself, 'torch ginger' seeds are easily available, though they are not the easisest plants to grow without plenty of sunshine.


hey..i jusst went back from a place which i could found almost all kids of fruits there. One of it is what you called with sour fruit. In here, we called it as "buah cekala". Some said that it is useful to cook it with fish. It helps to remove the smell of fish. And others also said that it helps to take away fats, like pork fats. Just boiled water and put the asam inside together with the pork. I dont know if it works or not. But to cook sour fish, I assure you buah cekala would help to make it delicious.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Look Inside and Pre-Order! Also available at Barnes&Noble and Indiebound.