Tempoyak - Gastro Obscura

Ingredients & Condiments


Fermenting raw durian is a better idea than you thought.

Rather than embody the rank pungency of both raw durian and fermentation microbes, fermented durian diverges from the sum of its parts. Locals in Malaysia and parts of Indonesia cook with this yellowish paste, known as tempoyak, to preserve and make use of non-optimal durians after the end of picking season. Preparation is simple: Cooks mix about one cup of fruit with one tablespoon of salt to product a creamy, sour paste that lacks much of durian’s infamous aroma.

Tasters liken the finished product to tangy mayonnaise with a distinctly acidic profile. It’s not eaten alone, but enhances a breadth of traditional fare. In Sarawak, chefs ferment durian to pair with meat, fish, or local petai beans. The lattermost, also called “stink beans” (due to their aroma and biological effects when consumed) up the ante when served with a topping of tempoyak and chili-fried anchovies. In case processing renders the condiment too accessible, this spicy, fishy, pungent pairing brings a sense of adventure back to eating durian.

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