“This would be the perfect dish to wake one up when one is feeling a bit heavy-eyed.”
The name of a dish doesn’t essentially reflect its taste. This is a fact that I finally understood when I foolishly assumed that Rujak Kuah Pindang (Balinese fruit salad with fish stock dressing) would, as it name suggests, taste a bit fishy and just bizarre (kuah pindang is made from fish stock). I hesitated when I had to visit Warung Rujak Gelogor in Bali – a warung that specialises in the aforementioned piscine-fruit concoction. So much so that I was hoping by the time I get there, the shop would’ve been closed.
Fate, however, decided otherwise. I arrived only less than half-an-hour before it was due to close up shop. Much to my horror – at the time, mind you – the owner’s daughter, Kadek Latri, welcomed me with open arms. “Well, this is going to be fun,” I said to myself.
A gaggle of customers were still crowding the joint, which was first established in 1966. I was handed a pen and paper to jot down my order. Brimming with the same level of enthusiasm as a child being dragged by her mum for an appointment with the local dentist, I grudgingly wrote “Rujak”. “Isi gula (would you like to add palm sugar)?” asked one of the staff in a thick Balinese accent, to which I responded with a look that could only be described as baffled. “I’ll just dab it on to the sauce to take the edge off the dressing,” she insisted.
Less than five minutes in, the Rujak Kuah Pindang was already on my table. After initially flinching at the thought of having to eat it, I was surprised to not catch a sniff of the foul fishy smell that I had expected. Comprising tropical fruits such as water apple, unripe mango, jicama, pineapple, and star fruit, I proceeded to spoon up a mango drenched with the light, watery dressing and swallow it whole.
The dressing, which is actually made from a mixture of tamarind, fish stock and chilli, sported a sour-and-spicy flavour. As like any other Balinese dish, it was very spicy. I felt like it burnt a hole through my tongue, but in a rather more pleasant way. The sour taste of the unripe mango added an extra kick to the Rujak, and as a massive spicy-food fan, my taste buds were given a right pampering.
This would be the perfect dish to wake one up when one is feeling a bit heavy-eyed. I would advise all first-timers to have it with palm sugar, though, to balance out the very piquant flavours of the dish. Before I left the island, I took the effort to spend some time again at Warung Rujak Gelogor to take pleasure in its gem of a Rujak one last time. I definitely learned my lesson to never judge a dish by its name. Perhaps I should sample a monkey’s brain next time around.
By Jessicha Valentina
Jl. Bukit Tunggal No. 27,
Pamecutan, Denpasar, Bali
Open daily from 10am-6pm