“Rujak” a la Marketman

I worked in Jakarta for the better part of 5 years, on and off. And at around 3 or 4 pm in the afternoon, the administrative staff on our floor would often head down to the street to pick up a snack or merienda. During the summer months, when fruit was in season, they often came back up to their desks and unraveled a waxed paper bundle with this pungent fruit salad called “rujak”. Think sliced fruit with salty, pungent “terasi” (a form of shrimp paste of dry bagoong), salt, sugar or palm sugar, salt and chilies. Depending on the ingredients, pineapple, apples, guavas, makopa, green mangoes, singkamas, tamarind paste, chilies, etc. you ended up with a crunchy, smooth, sour, salty, sweet and pungent afternoon delight. I haven’t had rujak in many, many years.

But today I realized we had lots of fruit in the house and the neighborhood, freshly made tamarind puree in the fridge, some bagoong, chilies, etc. so off to the kitchen I went. This is my version of an Indonesian (and Malay) classic. I was salivating all throughout the prep process, and managed to eat roughly a third of this hefty bowl of rujak! Into a bowl, add some homemade tamarind puree (made with ripe but sour tamarind, brown sugar and water). Next, some bagoong, sambal and chopped chilies and generous amounts of salt.

Assemble an interesting mix of fruit. Pineapples are classic (but I am very allergic to them), green and semi-green mangoes, tambis, makopa, papaya, apples, pears, pomelos, singkamas, guavas, etc. Think of sweet, sour, crisp, soft, etc.

Slice either in flat shapes or sticks, depending on your preference.

Toss to mix up fruit. Add the tamarind and bagoong mixture. Add more bagoong or salt or chilies as you desire. Mix well.

Serve immediately (or if you leave a few minutes, it weeps and makes a sauce of sorts) with bamboo sticks (polite) or just attack with your fingers, licking the pungent dressing every now and then. Are you salivating yet? Salivating yet? :) Do not start typing your blog post until after you have washed your hands twice. :)


10 Responses

  1. You make it sound simple to make. I know you said ala MM, but how close to authentic is it? First saw it on TV here in Melbourne and you bet I was salivating! None of the restos here serve it as abundant as fruits are. Tried making it once and instnct tells me it wasn’t how it’s supposed to taste.

    BTW I follow you on IG but I refuse to add another social media outlet.

  2. Dragon, to make it authentic, you need belacan, the aromatic shrimp paste of Indonesia. Everything else is okay in the mixture…Mon, yes, I am allergic to pineapple, my tongue, mouth and throat get all itchy and I break out in a warm sweat. :) But it was adult onset allergy, I used to consume pineapples with abandon as a kid.

  3. Do you also react the same way to canned or cooked pineapple? What about pineapple jam? I’m thinking it may have something to do with the ‘eyes’ of the fruit.

  4. I also worked in Indonesia for 5 years and had rujak almost everyday for snacks. I suddenly want to go back to Jakarta after reading this post, MM.

  5. I think this started my love for trying new “dishes”. I was 10 and visited my grandma in Brunei. Good times.



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