Salacca / Salak
Salak grow in clusters at the base of the Rakum palm, a spine-covered palm that grows in small clumps averaging 3 to 4 meters high. Technically classified as drupes, the fruits are 2 to 3 centimeters long and ovate with an elongated tapering tip. Their scaly exterior is brownish-orange and slightly rough to the touch. It easily peels away, revealing 2 to 3 lobes of juicy white flesh that contain hard, brown inedible seeds. While other snake fruits may be crunchy and mild, this variety of salak is much juicier, softer and bursting with flavors of pineapple, peach, and pear.
Salak has high levels of potassium, thiamine, iron, calcium, and vitamin C. It also has anti-diarrheal properties, and if too much of the fruit is consumed, it can result in constipation.
The coarse scaly skin of the salak easily comes away by breaking off the fruit’s tip to expose the creamy flesh inside. Each lobe within is covered in a white film, similar to that on the outside of a hardboiled egg. Be sure to remove the layer of film before eating. Most savories are eaten fresh, out-of-hand as a snack, and are commonly sold by street venors. Their sweet flavor complements pies or jams, and they can be candied or made into syrup. One variety of snake fruit, Salak gula pasir, is fermented into a wine.
Salak is available year-round in Southeast Asia.