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Monday, July 2, 2012

The Fugu Truffle Fruit

Cooking for someone is an heavy responsibility - food can be deadly. A spoiled item here, a forgotten allergy there, an improperly used ingredient can inadvertently turn a festive occasion into an alarm. And some foods are just riskier than others. 

Ayam buah keluak, Chilli Padi, Singapore

Ever noticed that almost all foods that allegedly require courage to eat involve animals? The poster child for this would be fugu, or the puffer fish. Source of the deadly poison tetrodotoxin,  dining on fugu is literally putting your life in the chef's hands. 

The buah keluak spooned out
The iconic dish of Peranakan cooking, however, is the chicken or pork stews cooked with buah keluak, the poisonous fruit of the Pangium edule plant native to Southeast Asia. The nutlike fruit contains high levels of hydrogen cyanide, and requires proper fermentation and laborious preparation before being served. On fermentation, the fruit turns jet black, and conveys a musky truffle-like flavor and aroma, which conveys a heady perfume to the long stewed meat.

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