How to Prepare Buah Keluak


I have been told that my blogging is sporadic, erratic at best.
And also that I sound like a tape recorder played on repeat, at times. 🙂 

I’ll be honest, I’ve been having trouble with the buah keluak recipe.
To be very fair, it has been a while since I last did any heavy duty blogging / photo editing,
and I am beginning to think that perhaps I’m getting a little too old for this. 
It’s taken me almost three weeks to complete, and I’ve decided to break it into a two-part instalment;
especially since I realised that not many non-Peranakans know how to prepare these tough lil’ buggers for cooking to begin with.

A few weeks ago, I introduced you to the star of the show.

Buah keluak

If you recall from the previous post, I soak mine for a minimum of 10 days.
Though if modern semi-scientific reasoning is to be believed, all the cyanide in these nuts should have *poofed* in all the ash / earth / banana leaves / other random mystical mojo it was buried in back in Indonesia,
ergo whatever soaking we do in our kitchens is done merely to remove the leftover grime from the shells.

But I scared hor… death by cyanide poisoning looks painful leh… So if you don’t mind, I’ll still soak mine for 10 days.

Always soak extra because you will inevitably end up with more than a few bad nuts after a week or so of soaking.

Bad nuts rattle with shaking, indicating the insides are shrivelling off the walls of the nut.
When opened, bad nuts smell worse than the good ones – I did not even think that possible – and are crumbly instead of sticky.
Considering the time and effort it takes to hack these things open, don’t waste your time on the bad ones.

After a few rounds of cooking however, you can assess the degree of badness from the sound of the rattling, and realise that you can still afford to use some of them.

Give your buah keluak one last scrub under running water, kiss them goodbye, and hack them all open.

Now, hacking buah keluak open is an art on its own.
There isn’t a nutcracker / pliers big enough to crack it; and you can’t just hack / smash them in half.

Remember how when you were a child and you needed to make eggshell puppets – how you had to carefully poke just one hole @ its fat end with a needle / thumb tack to drain all the albumin + yolk out?

Holy Shells

Making holes in an eggshell.
~photo from

That’s how you crack your buah keluak, in a nutshell. (Pun was intended. Was I funny?)
But most probably, the buah keluak will laugh and scoff at your puny thumb tack. So how?

Now, notice how your buah keluak is a triangular-ish blob? At its base, there is a raised ridge (where the nut once stuck to the tree, I assume).

One buah keluak. Many buah keluaks?

Anatomy of a buah keluak

Proceed to balance your nut on your chopping board with one hand. Make sure it’s not wobbly, to avoid accidents.
Place your knife, preferably a sharp murderous cleaver, on the ridge, and proceed to hack down with your other hand against the back of the blade.
Make sure all your are still intact.

Hand position to hack the nuts open

OK, so maybe this is how I do it.
Got any better ideas? 
On hindsight, I should have video-ed this. I’ll try to remember this next round I cook this dish.

Another method which I try is to get the Baba to hold on to a nut while I hack away with the aid of a pestle.
(Any lewd imageries are occasionally intentional.)
I told you my cooking methods are not authentic.

If you survived the last step, you can now proceed to scrape all the good stuff out.

The bounty

Pretty self explanatory, right?

After this, you can either continue on making the dish,
or you can pack the nuts and the opium  separately & store it in the fridge.
I’ve never tried it personally, but I hear whispers that it’ll keep 3-4 days.

But why risk it lar, hor? After all the hard work you put in.

Now I must say bye bye. Tea time calls.
But I promise to put the recipe up soon.

The NyonyaCelup 

*EDIT: Babi and/or Ayam Buah Keluak recipe can be found here. 🙂

2 responses »

  1. Pingback: RECIPE: Babi and/or Ayam Buah Keluak « The NyonyaCelup

  2. Pingback: Buah Keluak « The NyonyaCelup

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