Salak (Salacca zalacca)

Salak, a native fruit from Indonesia and Malaysia but it seems to be very popular in Indonesia. Since it originated from these two “Malay-speaking” countries, the Malay name was adopted.

Salak means “bark”, as in bark of the tree. But why “bark”? Because the tough protective covering and the brown color of the bark looks similar to the skin of this fruit. But it actually looks almost identical to the scales of a snake’s skin and hence, the English name of snake fruit or snake skin fruit are commonly used instead. And it belongs to the same family as those palm dates.

Salak is considered as rare once out of South-east Asia because it is not cultivated elsewhere. The fruit itself is cute to look at, as to why the skin is so similar to the skin of a snake and it makes you wonder, are they related somehow :slight_smile:

The size of this fruit varies but it is about the size of a fig and with a pointed tip. It comes with brown scale-liked skin but take note that there is yet another exotic species with the red skin and it is slightly longish in shape.

How to eat this fruit? No knife needed. Just break off the tip and peel the skin from the top down. The tough, thick-looking skin is deceiving as it peels off quite easily. If you put this fruit in the refrigerator and when you peel it, the skin will break off into small pieces, similar to breaking the shell of a hard-boiled egg.

The inside of this fruit, consists of three lobes, are “off-white to creamy” color. It reminds you of an over-sized peeled garlic! There is a single, dark brown seed in every lobe but the seeds are not edible.

The taste? Depending on the various salak cultivars, some are semi-sweet, dry and crunchy but some are slightly juicy, soft and acidic. Somewhat different and unusual taste from other common fruits, so it needs some acquired taste to like it. I neither like nor dislike it, I just don’t mind eating it.

The skin is misleading as this fruit bruise easily and you can’t tell from its external look. The moment you peel it, you may spot those darkened brownish blotches which smells badly and have to cut that part off. Those tough-looking skin won’t be able to protect the inside of this fruit much.

If you put salak in an enclosed room, you can smell the the sourish aroma of this fruit. If you like it, it smells good to you but it definitely does not smell good to me.