A Shellfish, a Fruit and a Vegetable: Horseshoe Crab, Nipah Fruit and YamPosted: 24 July 2012
That’s a long title, solely for the purpose of being dramatic:)
Horseshoe crab, nipah fruit and yam are quite common food in this part of the world, with my tropical kampung located in river coast facing South Chinese Sea. I am not a fan of them, but this is what we have here so I thought I would just write about it.
The horseshoe crab (belangkas in Malay, belakas in Melanau) in the picture was caught in nearby creek to my kampung. During some time in a year, plenty of horseshoe crab will come ashore to lay eggs. In my kampung it can also be found in creeks that is connected to the shore and Rejang river. These creeks are also connected to man-made canals flanking alongside a road connecting this kampung to nearby town. Since many people go to work to nearby town using this road, when it is the horseshoe crab laying egg’s season, you can see them slowing down at the side of the road, looking for horseshoe crab. Strangely enough, I have never seen one in my life. I have seen some at the beach, but not in those canals.
This shellfish is not sought after for its meat, but its eggs. (or rather roes?) My uncle and my cousin really like them, but I have never tasted it, so I do not know how it tastes or whether to like it or not. There is something about it that stops me from having some. There is also a popular belief that consuming horseshoe crab’s eggs after or before taking paracetamol will lead to some serious health problem, even death.
The pictures are showing fruit of nipah tree. Nipah is a type of palm tree growing in abundance on either side of the road I was writing about. Its young leaves are very useful for wrapping food, click here to find out more. Its fruit can also be consumed. It is sweet and fleshy like young coconut pulp (is that a right word?). I do not see much of the fruit as much as I see the young leaves as people are not really crazy for this fruit.
Yam (keladi, ubi keladi in Malay, bukau in Melanau) is my sister’s favorite vegetable. Besides boiling the yam, it can also be made into yam in white pepper soup (roughly translated into Melanau: bukau sayur lada. The stalks are also eaten after the thin skin on it which can irritate the skin and throat (if you are not careful) is peeled. As you can see in the picture the stalks and yam are chopped. After sauteing shallots, add water and then the stalks and yam before putting in a considerable amount of ground white pepper enough to make you sweat when sipping the soup. It is normally eaten with white rice and salted fish.
It is amazing how human survive by discovering new food to consume. Back then, there is not much choice on what to eat. People just make do with whatever the nature provides them with. Nowadays, we have french fries, instant noodle and carbonated drinks, we can afford to be choosy or even indifferent towards these really traditional food. Just some thoughts.