Tempoyak: Durian Fruit Fermentation, Favorite Cuisine of the Dayak and Malay People in Kalimantan

Tempoyak, paste made from durian. Borneo Culinary.
Tempoyak, paste made from durian. Borneo Culinary. Image by Mering

What kind of delicacy is this? For those familiar with and fond of durian, a spiky fruit with soft, tender flesh within its pods, it serves as the primary ingredient in making tempoyak.

The mention of this unique cuisine immediately invokes thoughts of the Dayak and Malay cultures. While it has historical roots, it has transformed into the pinnacle of culinary excellence in Kalimantan, with its influence also extending to Sumatra.

Within Kalimantan, tempoyak occupies a central role as an irreplaceable delicacy. It offers a range of tempting flavors, its key ingredients being durian fruit and salt. 

Only ripe durian fruit is used as the main component. Through a fermentation process, tempoyak emerges as a symbol of the refined flavors of both Dayak and Malay cuisines.

Tempoyak is highly favored as a distinctive dish among the Kalimantan locals. It can be incorporated into dishes with fish and meat, either through steaming or dry-frying, combined with small fish and dried shrimp. For long-term preservation, it can be stored in jars.

the best fruit in Borneo
Durian. Image by Mering

If you ever visit Kalimantan, don't forget to savor the tempoyak cuisine. Tempoyak undoubtedly stimulates your appetite; you might even find yourself finishing two plates of rice.

There are numerous unique stories surrounding tempoyak. For the first time, foreigners (especially Europeans and Americans) dislike the aroma of durian. 

In fact, some even go to the extreme of covering their noses upon catching a whiff of durian's scent. However, over time, they end up enjoying durian more than anyone else.

The same goes for tempoyak. Initially, many people do not like tempoyak, especially those from outside Kalimantan. 

However, gradually they develop a liking for tempoyak, the signature cuisine of the Dayak and Malay cultures in Kalimantan.*)

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