Enjoying Rujak at Kuta Beach
Rujak means “mixture” or “eclectic mix” and this is what this dish is, a traditional fruit and vegetable salad dish commonly found in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Available everywhere across Indonesia from street vendors, warungs or even posh restaurants serve this. The origin of rujak is unclear and there is a quite a number of variations across South East Asia but what history says is that Rujak is one of the oldest dishes out there, it is also the earliest historically identified food of ancient Java. Roughly created around 901 CE (very early 10th century from the era of Mataram Kingdom in Central Java where it was incorporated into their prenatal ceremony called Naloni Mitoni, where it was believed that young mango and other sour-tasting fruits are craved by pregnant women, or what Filipinos call “lihi”.
During the early days rujak was just a mixture of different sour tasting fruits until chili pepper and peanuts was introduced during the early colonial era in the 16th century after it was brought by Spanish and Portuguese traders from the Americas. Later on, palm sugar and terasi was added to give it that unique flavour.
This was one of my sought-after dishes that I listed to try when we visited Bali a while back so when I saw an old lady selling this when we were walking at Kuta Beach I did not think twice. It was made really fresh where they ask you what fruits you want on it, peeling as you point to they what your choices are. The fruits are impressive as well, most of them are new to me, and tried it first time there.
So our beach Rujak was made with jambu air (water apple), pineapple, semi ripe mangoes, bengkoang (jicama), cucumber, kedondong (ambarella/golden apple), belimbing (starfruit), papaya, salak (snake fruit) dressed in a dressing prepared with water, gula jawa (palm sugar), asem jawa (tamarind), ground sautéed peanuts, terasi (shrimp paste), salt, bird’s eye chili, and red chili pepper. It was a mouth-watering experience, definitely a lot of happening in one bite, sweet, sour, salty, pungent, fruit, fishy, savoury, umami, it a rock party in our tongue and if you are not used to this type of combination, I bet this will be one hell of an experience. But if you tried semi ripe mangoes and bagoong, then is sort of similar.
Have you tried something like this? do you think you would like it? If yes try to make one at home, it’s quite easy and even though I did not make it, I saw the process so sharing this recipe for you.
- ⅓ cup palm sugar
- 2 tbsp tamarind flesh, diluted in 4 tbsp water
- 1 birds eye chilli
- ¼ tsp terasi (fermented shrimp paste)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
- 2 pcs water apple, chopped
- 1 cup pineapple chunks
- 1 semi ripe mango, chopped
- ½ pc jicama, chopped
- ½ pc cucumber, chopped
- 2 pcs ambarella/golden apple, chopped
- 1 pcs starfruit, chopped
- 1 cup firm papaya, chopped
- 2 pcs snake fruit, chopped
- In a large mortar and pestle combine all rujak sauce ingredients together apart from the peanuts then gently pound them to make sauce. Set is aside
- Place all fruits in a bowl, then dress with sauce, top with peanuts then serve.