Buah Keluak Pork Ribs

Thursday, June 29, 2017


While I like many pork rib recipes - and there are quite a few on this blog - this buah keluak recipe heads the pack in Usain Bolt's style. 

I have not gotten round to preparing a buah keluak recipe from scratch, working with the fresh seeds and de-poisoning it through an elaborate process. I am aware that there is a satisfying joy in digging for the truffle/foie gras-like flesh from the seeds, in the same way you pick out the the little bits of intense flavours from Shanghai hairy crabs. Indeed, flavour is best enjoyed when it comes in little bursts, something which the fine dining approach encourages. You won't appreciate food as much when there is "rush and mass" eating. 

For the modern home cook, to be able to buy pre-prepared buah keluak from Tekka market simply makes it practical for this wonderful delicacy to appear on our daily dinner tables. I bought a pack of it for $10 recently and it went a long way, giving us many plates of wonderful pork and chicken dishes. If you are familiar with braising pork ribs or chicken recipes, including curry ones, this should be a no-brainer and it should appear more often on your dining table.

I start here with a classic Nonya recipe which adds tamarind sauce, ginger, lemon grass and blue ginger. Either chicken or pork ribs will work fine with this recipe. If you like, mixing it is fine too and that will be in classic Nonya tradition.  If you are serving the buah keluak in their seeds, you will need to double the amount of seeds. As I am doing a buah keluak sauce here, half that amount should suffice. As always, with this type of recipe, the ratio of ingredients need not be fixed and use the list below as a guide. And for the experienced cook - just pure inspiration! 

2 kg pork ribs

For blending:
Flesh from 12 pieces of buah keluak seeds 
10 shallots
6 buah keras
2 tsp of minced tumeric 
2 inch of blue ginger
2 inch of ginger
4 stalks of lemon grass

100 ml of cooking oil
1 tablespoon of chilli paste
2 Tbsp of tamarind paste
2 tsp of sugar
2 tsp of salt

Coriander leaves for garnishing


For the pork ribs, I prefer to use a mixture of soft soup bones and the longer spare ribs. I avoid using the "king loin spare ribs" as it is the most expensive rib cut and you are just paying for the large piece of loin meat attached to the bones. Have the ribs cut into medium size pieces of about 2 inches. 

As for the tamarind paste, I normally use the one kg pack of Indonesian deseeded ones from Tekka market.  

Pound or blend the paste finely. 

Heat up the oil in a wok. When hot, add the blended paste and simmer for about 20 minutes. 

Add the ribs, tamarind paste, chilli paste, sugar and salt. Simmer for 45 minutes or till the meat is tender enough. If you wish too, you can adjust the saltiness, sourness and spiciness of the sauce along the way. The meat should not be falling off the bone. 

Served garnished with coriander leaves. It is wonderful eaten with rice. 

It keeps well and yes, it tastes even better on the second day. 

Cooking the dish - it does not look pretty but this is one dish where you dont need to feast  with your eyes first. 

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  1. HI Terry, that looks so good! May I know from which stall in Tekka did you buy the pre-packed buah keluack sauce? Thanks!