One more time…

I don’t know what this fruit is called in English or in any other languages…

Bua' alung
*Gundot’s photo from Facebook*

…but in Melanau, we call it bua‘ (with a soft “k” sound) alung.

Inside, the flesh is orange in colour, sour and not really tasty. Most of the time, we did not bother to eat it but my mum would cut it open and throw away the flesh and dry the skin in the sun. She would use it when cooking the kampung-style masak kunyit (cooked with tumeric) prawns or fish to get the sour taste in the soup. This is a very much simpler version of the nyonya-style assam fish or prawns and as a matter of fact, I had a post on it some time ago whereby I cooked some prawns following this recipe. These days, since the skin of the bua’ alung is not available for us to use, we would have to depend on using asam keping (tamarind slices) as a substitute instead.

I cooked this dish again the other day and this time around, instead of prawns, I had some fish instead…


I shared this photo on Facebook and it certainly drew a lot of attention and a whole lot of oooo‘s and ahhh‘s……

STP's ikan masak kunyit 1

Well, if you missed it the previous time around, don’t worry for I shall share with you the recipe for this very simple ethnic dish one  more time. You will need these ingredients…


…some kunyit (tumeric), chilies, belacan (dried prawn paste), a few pieces of asam keping and some serai (lemon grass).

I pounded the kunyit and chilies together and since I was in the mood, I also pounded the belacan though it wasn’t really necessary. You will have to pound and bruise the ends of the serai as well so as to get the flavour out…

Ingredients - pounded

Then, I threw everything into some water and stirred it well…

Add water & boil

Once that was done, I put the pot on the fire and brought it to boil. You would have to simmer it for a while to let the sweetness and taste come out of the ingredients. You may want to add a pinch of msg or a bit of ikan bilis (dried anchovies) granules, if you so desire, to enhance the taste further.

Finally, I put in the fish and brought it back to boil. Once the fish was cooked, it was ready to be served…

STP's ikan masak kunyit 2

As you can see, it is very simple and yet, very tasty. You will be able to enjoy the fish and have the soup to drink and also to pour all over your rice. They go so very well together.

My regular commentor, Irene Tan, in Kuching tried cooking it and her hubby loved it so much that he asked her to cook it again the following weekend…and since then, there has been no turning back – she has been cooking it, it seems, again and again and they all enjoyed eating it very much. Perhaps you would like to give it a try as well?

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

48 thoughts on “One more time…”

  1. Try to put some daun kesum in it… Tis looks like masak pindang, lots in palembang… Sometimes they use spare ribs too… The soupy gravy should banjir up the rice baru shiok and ho sey … Cuh tanya shereen…

    This is our authentic original kampung recipe in the family – simple and nice. Ya…would be nice to add this and that, will surely enhance the taste…but in the end, may turn out to be something different…like tom yam or something along that line.

  2. If only we have those exotic ingredients here…I’ll be sprinting to the kitchen with your recipe instead of just drooling over your photos…LOL! Hey! You’re quite good in coming up with a lot of ‘delish dishes’… Should really open a restaurant 🙂

    You don’t have these things there. Hmmmm….maybe you can try some alternatives that you can get there. I bet the end result will be just as nice or perhaps even better.

  3. i loooove taking this sourish fish dish when we have chapfan (economic rice) as lunchy! and add lots of gravy onto my rice. it just whets my appetite resulting me eating more. fml.

    Can get in Penang? Seldom see it here – if any, it’s assam curry…which is richer or stronger, the gravy is not so clear, not the same but also very nice. I love that a lot as well – my missus cooks that version but it is a lot more work. This simple one comes from my family – oppa kampung style… LOL!!!

  4. Lovely cooking! I like how your photos are coming out too – it’s amazing and vibrant! 🙂

    Yeah, I can imagine the sauce would go well with rice! It looks delicious!

    BTW, why isn’t the skin available for cooking now? Cheers!

    Can’t get hold the fruits – maybe, can buy sometimes at the market but will have to dry the skin yoruself. This can be quite tedious – easier to use asam keping, readily available at the shops and supermarkets. Let me know in advance when you’re coming back and I can plan to cook these village people delights for you while you’re home. 😉

  5. Oh that’s how the loanshark *big ear hole* dai yi loong gets the name alung they get very sour if the borrower does not pay up? haha

    I refrain from mentioning what the word actually means in Melanau… Muahahahahaha!!!!

  6. Bananaz will only have this sour dish banjir over the rice would be enough already yum.

    True, very true. Come, visit me here in Sibu and I can cook this and lots more for you. Mango’s waiting anxiously for a honeymoon, lah! 😉

  7. Oooohhhh … this looks like something I used to have back in Penang, homecooked of course by mum and aunties. Haven’t had this for yonks! Now I want to eat that.
    For someone who’s not into fussy cooking, you sure are into the pounding of spices lately. Not complaining at all 🙂

    Very easy leh!!! Throw everything in and pound a few times, done! If using a blender, have to take out, wash first (missus says even in the cupboard, will get dirty, dust and all), wipe dry…and put together and plug in and use…and take apart and wash…leave out to really really dry (or it will rust, missus says), put back together and store away in the cupboard. I always feel it is such a nuisance and besides, pounding by hand, it seems to taste better… 😉 Come, come…cook your own. It’s sooooo easy and better with prawns or more meaty fish like tenggiri – not so much hassle over the bones.

    1. I’m hopeless at local dishes … esp with all the agak-agak measurements. But looking at your pic of the ingredients, it doesn’t look like a lot to pound. Perhaps I shall bring my mortar and pestle out of its hibernation and finally put it to good use….. I said, perhaps 🙂

      Just a bit! One go, pound all – the kunyit and the chili plus the ends of the serai…the belacan, no need to pound, perfectly ok. Come, give it a try. Ask Irene Tan – she will tell you it is easy, so simple…and yet so very nice. She hasn’t stopped cooking and eating since she tried…

  8. Those fruits look like red grapes. I suppose can only get from the jungle. This version of asam fish is so simple, no need to saute, just chuck into the pot and boil. Easy enough, I want to try it. You seem to be so into pounding these days 🙂 I admit to being lazy when it comes to pounding spices.

    Ya…if I’m not mistaken, they grow wild – not nice, so I do not expect anybody to plant just for the skin. That’s right, only a little bit too pound, very easy…unlike making the sambal hay bee. I thought I would need a shoulder or arm massage that night but luckily, it was o.k. No problem at all. LOL!!! 😀 Go ahead and try – no oil, no extra salt…so healthy!

  9. oooohhhhh….aaahhhhhhhhhhh… when can i taste these!!

    When you come to Sibu…or you can try to cook your own. It is so very easy! 😉 But hey! I did cook the prawns for you all when you came to Sibu the last time… Same recipe!

  10. Why ask SP to cook? Can’t you cook and I go makan? Please, Thangatchi Ah Hua is looking forwards to it~

    Ok, you all can settle this among yourselves – who will cook and who will go and eat. LOL!!! 😀

  11. Sir, I wish one day all the hamsaperors and hamsaperesses will make a trip to Sibu, just to makan your home cooked dishes. It looks so salivating.

    Come, come!!! Get in touch with all of them and pick a date. Most welcome – would love to have the whole gang here. 😉

  12. I love this dish too.. just like the assam laksa soup.. yummy!

    Oh? Assam laksa? I guess the sour and spicy part is the same – not too sure about the colour and everything else…if I compare with those that I’ve eaten.

  13. Wah, delish sourish fish!!

    Ahem, ahem, I’m a small eater; just give me a bowl (or make it two) of rice, a fish and lots of soup, twice daily. See, no need those expensive 5-star scrumptious meals and I’m easily satisfied.

    Come, come… You can have all you want if you come to Sibu. Cook once, can last the whole duration of your stay here. Cheap to feed and hassle free. LOL!!! 😀

  14. You will never see this kind of fish swimming inside my pan..LOL..So many tiny bones.

    No leh? One big one down the middle – just watch out for those at the fins. Wait till you get the expensive upriver fish – bones by the million. That would be a chore to eat!

  15. Oooo … buah hutan. I tasted it loooong time ago and basically never really encountered it since then. Foo Chow called it Wong Dan, directly translated to yellow (?). Not exactly sure what Dan (pronounced as Da-an) prefer too.. :p

    Sabahan called it takob-akob. Many just simply refer it as manggis hutan, as they are from the same family. The scientific name is Garcinia sizygiifolia

    Ahhhh…so it IS from the manggis family. Never knew much about it other than the fact that the skin is dried and used to cook masak kunyit fish or prawns…and in Melanau, we call it bua’ alung.

  16. have not seen this bua’ alung before, looks like apple and looks like cherries, haha.. so you didn’t try the flesh at all?? hmmm, since you replaced it with assam keping, then i can imagine how it actually tastes..

    I ate when I was small…but I did not like it. It’s a simpler version of the nyonya asam fish – some like it simpler and clear like this, more refreshing…or at least, I do.

  17. oooooo aaaaaa, is that what you see in your facebook comments?? hahahahaha!!

    What? What do I see on Facebook? The fruit? I guess so…and a whole lot of other things as well. Wink! Wink! 😉

  18. Hey. This looks simple. I want to try cooking this. I hope the ingredients are available here in Thailand. My hope is that I don’t burn it and it tastes good.

    Should be available there. They’re pretty common…or at least, in this part of the world. You’re staying permanently in Thailand? Not on holiday and going back to the Philippines soon?

  19. Huhuhu!!!!….my family’s favourite. I had cooked so many times till I lost count of them. Yes, everyone must try to cook this very very nice and hassle free soup and I bet if you try once, you will ask for more. Thumbs Up & Cheers!!!!!!

    There!!! I don’t know how many times I have to tell everybody before anyone believes me. Never mind! If they do not believe, then it is their loss – we can go on cooking and enjoying this dish all by ourselves. 😉

    1. That is selar fish, rite. Most of the time I use kembong or ikan tenggiri.

      I think tenggiri would be better. This smaller type of fish, the fins may come apart and there are bits of bones there. The main part of the fish is ok, fleshy…lots to eat and and the fish tastes good too but I prefer prawns, our udang galah.

  20. This dish really,i mean really reminds me of my childhood… We were poor then, I remember i was like 8 or 9 years old, sometimes papa,didn’t have enough to spare and mama will go and buy those Sardine fish,,,(very cheap then) she would go like about 11 am, by then the fish monger would kind of “lelong” of the day’s catch and mama would get the fish very very cheap..

    Then would do this dish,put it the “asam ko” ,chang mau (as this one she would ask for free too),then just one dish for lunch and dinner,we must finish it off cos no fridge to keep it overnight,,,,

    thanks for the picture

    Yes, we ate this growing up…our kampung style of cooking. Now that my mum can no longer cook, I sure am glad to be able to do it myself. Otherwise, the dish would eventually fade into oblivion like many things in the good ol’ days.

  21. I will Waaahhhh here…. lovely… reminded me of something my mom used to make in my younger years…. gotta ask her what she puts in hers so I can try both recipes together… muahahaha… I m just being greedy! 😉

    Try this one. It’s so hassle-free and yet so deliciously satisfying. You will not regret it, I tell you.

  22. I dont see this bua alung before 🙂 guess it adds flavor to the gravy. It sounds like laksa….mmmm must be delicious ! You good cook leh 🙂

    It’s sour. That’s why it may be replaced by asam keping – that will make the soup sour too. Gp ahead! Give it a try! I assure you your wild boar will love you for this…like Irene Tan’s husband. LOL!!! 😀

    1. Wow, you keep on promoting my name but it is true, Elin, you will fall in love with it. Give it a try.

      Yalor…I need support, evidence, witnesses. Otherwise people say I talk big only, praising my own cooking. Must refer to someone who has tried…and loves it soooo much!!!!

  23. it does look a lot like assam fish my mum always cooks at home.. but i dont think she uses that buah thingy.. Arthur the cook strikes yet again!

    Yes, nobody coming to town so I do not go out so much…so I have to resort to blogging about things that I cook myself. 😦 It is a simplified version of the assam fish, the nyonya-style one – my missus will cook that version…not me as it is not as easy-peasy to prepare.

  24. Sounds like an easy dish to cook! But I don’t know where to get serai or assam keping.. will ginger be able to replace turmeric?? 🙂

    Oh no!!! You can get the powder form (though not as nice) but I think you should be able to get these and the serai and asam keping from the wet market there. If all fails, then you can go to the Asian shops. Sure they have all these there.

  25. it looks like asam fish ..
    my dad could cook a very nice asam fish..
    gee it is been so long since I tasted his cooking..

    What about you? Can eat only kah? This is a simpler version…not exactly like asam fish but also very very nice.

  26. Very yummy. I will love adding those gravy into my rice. My mum planted some lemon grass in front of our house. I will show her this recipe and let her make good use of the lemon grass…hahaha..

    You need kunyit too… Very healthy dish – no oil, no added salt – bet they would love it! 😉

  27. is this taste like assam fish? Hmmmmm…maybe i won’t touch this dish…kekekkekek

    Something like that, lighter…not that strong… Hmmm…you really should try everything, be more adventurous. I think my father would eat this and he enjoys it too even though like you, there are many things that he would not touch e.g. sambal belacan.

  28. I don’t think I’ve seen the fruit itself before… But the fish and the soup looks yummy~

    I don’t think so. I hardly ever see it myself here…even though it is supposed to be a Sarawak fruit.

  29. Hey…this is something like what my friend ., florence , cooks. Her mom is from sarawak

    Oh? Not from Sibu, by any chance? I wonder which part…and whether there is any Melanau influence in her cooking.

  30. Nice. What I like about this dish is that no frying of the ingredients involved thus cutting out the use of oil. Thanks for sharing.

    Try it and post in your blog. I’m sure you’ll love it if you’re into kampung/Malay kind of cooking.

  31. it looks appetizing…like i would consume 2 cups or more of rice for that 🙂 but i wonder how many sodium is in that soup/sauce 🙂

    No salt added…but there is salt in the dried prawn paste – this one good quality, not salty so ok. Sometimes, the poor quality one, so very salty…so have to add very little but adding very little – not too salty but not tasty – the fragrance of the dried prawns not strong enough. That’s why very important to buy good quality ones, never mind if a bit more expensive.

    But if you cut down the sodium and you eat so much rice…wouldn’t your blood sugar shoot right through your head? Isn’t that very foolish?

    I do not believe in cutting out this and that but I do believe in everything in moderation – never mind food or whatever in one’s life! No need to be so fanatical about things… Live and let live!

    1. the dietitian of my mother before recommended just a pinch of salt to food requiring saltiness )for the whole day), then to cut back on rice, just 1 cup of rice a day i think. i agree with everything in moderation when it comes with food 🙂

      Just take everything but all in moderation…and exercise. I think I’m fine with the 1st part…but when it comes to the 2nd, I fail…miserably. Sobsss!!!! LOL!!! 😀

  32. Tho it looks appetizing and mouth-watering but sourish fish is just not my kinda-food, i love tom yum but i just don’t really know how to appreciate the Nyonya type ones

    Huh??? Isn’t tom yam sour? A lot more sour than nyonya’s asam dishes? I’m puzzled…

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