Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cempedak Fritters

Cempedak fritters: sweet, creamy, strongly flavored with soft and stringy texture

Lucy (a new cell member, so there's advantage to leading CG) just gave me 2 "very special, the best" cempedaks ("jumpulut" to the Chinese). Lucy was right. These are the best cempedaks I have ever ever eaten. The regular cempedaks have yellow, pulpy edible mesocarps (let's call these compound seeds) inside but these ones had deep orange 'pulps' that were very sweet and full of cempedak flavor. Each compound pulpy seed was twice the size of regular cempedak pulpy seed, so that in one 2 kg fruit, I could only get 15 compound seeds. Cempedaks belong to the same Moraceae family as the decorative pot of fig (ficus) in your living room. Many of our fruits in Borneo belong to this family, including the tarap and the nangka (jackfruit).

The bulging cempedak placed on 12"/30 cm tiles.

My daughter said that cutting this open was like performing an operation.

Inside the tough outer 'shell' are pulpy seeds slightly bigger than golf balls. The usual cempedak color is light yellow, but the new breed of cempedak is deep orange, large, creamy, highly scented and sweet.

It just occurred to me that tropical fruits, being compound fruits, are BIG. Maybe God made them big because he knew people in the tropics love to share their fruits; all those who eat durians will attest to the fact that even though they love their durians to death, it's best eaten with at least one other person. Unlike an apple or a strawberry which you can gobble on your own, our jackfruits (that's probably the world's biggest fruit?), tarap, durians, cempedak, coconuts, soursop etc are too big to be eaten alone.

I just love tropical fruits. While I think berries are pretty, and peaches are delightful, I would pass them over for a good mango or pineapple or mangosteen or rambutans or langsat or tarap or guava or chiku or longans or lychees...Tropical fruits have intense, exotic flavors that are distinct and exciting. Other than being naturally flavorful, tropical fruits have stronger taste and scent because in KK they are usually grown in backyards and small orchards, not on large farms as most temperate fruits are. Because of that, supply is limited and so the prices of tropical fruits are surprisingly high. For example, durians are now RM10 to RM16 per kg, mangosteen RM10 per kg. These cempedaks would be quite costly in the city (much cheaper in kampungs/village) but my friend got them for RM5 each because they were grown by her friend.

If you have been away from home, or if you intend to visit Borneo, come in October for 2 reasons: the local fruits season and the rainy season when temperatures are in the mid to low 20s. Okay, maybe rain isn't so good if you are a tourist, but seriously, get here during fruits season (there's a short fruits season in July but it's hot then) and check out the fruits at one of the tamus or meeting markets.

Back to my cempedak. We ate one au natural and fried the other. It is common to batter and deep-fry cempedak compound seeds whole, that is the pulply mesocarp with the hard seed inside. The seed can be eaten. Tastes nutty. I like to use rice flour batter because it gives a hard crisp that stays longer than plain flour. No sugar is necessary. I would suggest you also make a pot of local black coffee, no sugar. Sit back and let those thighs s=t=r=e=t=c=h as you eat these yummy, creamy, aromatic golden fritters with your coffee.

Oil your knife before (and after) cutting the cempedak because the center stem has sticky white sap. Use plastic bags as gloves to keep your hands free of the sticky sap which can only be removed with lots of oil.

Remember to place cempedak on old newspapers (with the appropriate news) so the sap doesn't mess up your work surface.

Cempedak Fritters
compound fruits of one cempedak, hard seed intact*
1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup (+ 2 T) water
large pinch of salt
oil to fry

*If the pulpy seed/fruit is big, cut it into half and fry each one separately so that the seed will cook.
1. Mix the rice flour, water and salt until smooth. The batter should be thick like heavy whipping cream.

2. Heat up 5 cups of oil until a drop of batter dropped in immediately rises to the surface of the oil. Lower the heat to medium. Drop a pulpy seed into the batter, drop the battered cempedak into the hot oil. Repeat with another 3 to 4 seeds, reduce heat to low. Do not fry too much at one time. It takes quite a while-about 3 to 4 minutes-to get the cempedak to cook through.

3. Remove onto paper towels when golden. Eat when hot.


Anonymous said...

gosh my saliva just drip over this one. must try this when my fil give us his orchard cempedak.


ganache-ganache said...

Wow, I love cempedak but I find ppl who don't eat durians think this is 'smelly' ! i usually make them into muffins, fritters too much for my waistline even though I'm dying inside to want to eat them. This is a cross-breed with jack fruit isn't it becos I don't see the light flesh type anymore ??

Zurin said...

Drool..this looks really good. I havent had cempedak in 30 years. hate cutting them but love them fried. yum

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

omg..this looks gorgeous! somemore home made too!

red | hongyi said...

mm this cempedak was so sweet, so creamy - prob the creamiest i've tried so far. the next thing i want is jungle durians. let's go hunt for those.

ganache: cempedak muffins?? are they good? never heard of them before!

LilyAnette said...

Thank you for posting this one. Reminds me of my hometown so much!

Unknown said...

This sure reminds me plenty of my childhood... but brings back pretty scary memories with it. The childhood part is that my mum planted lots of fruit bearing trees in the semi-D that I used to live as a kid. Brought back sweet memories of playing in the orchard, gnawing on the unharvested sugar cane, unturning the bricks for earth worms, etc etc.

The scary part is that the nangka tree outside the house. Whenever the fruit is ripe, we would gather together with the nangka fruit on newspapers and a parang on hand surrounded with little faces filled with anticipation. I still remember one of the times, the fruit was infested with fruit flies maggots.... eww~ still gives me the tingle + goosebumps! The maggots are different from those of common house-flies, which are equally gross. The fruit-flies maggots actually contracts their body and let off with a spring-like movement and land on somewhere else... ewww~~ imagine the disgusted look on those little faces seeing the maggots pouring out from the fruit! Its pretty hard to clear these maggots as they kept springing away in all directions... eww... still gives me goosebumps..goodness

Shan said...

Hi Terri - sorry it's been ages since I've commented but have been thinking a lot about getting in touch with you. Expect a phonecall from me soon :)
Hope you're well!

Agnes @ rB said...

Old favourite!!!! I haven't this for ages. Yum Yum :D

Big Boys Oven said...

wow! I can swet smell those chempedak! lovely right?

terri@adailyobsession said...

nee: welcome..lucky u, FIL has an orchard!

ganache: no, the jackfruit-cempedak cross will give a thick orangey jackfruit not cempedak. i have such a tree n the fruits are yum.

zurin: 30 yrs?! how come? oh, just oil ur knife well n use plastic bags.

joe: n home grown by somebody leh!

yi: but u didn't eat many...jungle durians not yet in season

lilyann: :0 tie to come home.

johnathan: i know what ur talking about! i hate those worms too, jumping about!!but most fruits tt r rotten will have them, not just cempedak.

shan: ok, till u get over ur busy schedule.

agnes: yes, yum. i don't trust those deep-fried stuff outside bc there r all these stories of plastic straws being used.

bbo: yes, tasty n fragrant. we're so lucky to get so many types of fruits here.

Precious Pea said...

I love cempedak! Haha..i like eating the seed too...taste just like chestnuts! Wonder if can roast it too.

TeaLady said...

What an interesting looking fruit. And I thought pomegranates were exotic.

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