“I could detect a fishy smell, which, upon further investigation, originated from the geranggang and shrimp paste. It was very pungent at first, but I got used to it after a few bites.”
One of the perks that come with my job is that I get to travel around the archipelago and explore the sights, sounds, and well, mainly the food. One traditional treat that I recently discovered during my excursion to Lombok was Rujak Kopang – a dish that made understand that geography plays a huge part in the traditional cuisine of an area.
Before I began my journey, I always assumed that Rujak (Indonesian fruit salad) is just slices of tropical fruits served with peanut sauce. How wrong I was, as it turned out that Rujak Kopang was quite different to its counterparts. To be perfectly honest, I’ve never even heard of Rujak Kopang until after I landed in Lombok. My tour guide – with the knowledge that my mission here was to sniff out for local food – spoke highly of Rujak Kopang. As someone who was born and bred in Kopang, he reassured me that I wouldn’t regret trying out this particular brand of Rujak.
My first visit to the seller’s location led to me going home empty handed as it was already closed by the time we got there. So when I had a few hours to burn prior to my flight back to Jakarta, I asked my tour guide to bring me to the Rujak Kopang vendor that sits in front of SMPN 1 Kopang. This time, Lady Luck was on my side as seller Ibu Sri Wahyuni was there at her bamboo stall, catering to two customers who were sharing a plate of rujak. Without thinking twice, I ordered both types of Rujak Kopang on offer – original and sweet.
As the second generation of her family to be selling Rujak Kopang, Ibu Sri Wahyuni has been plying her trade for more than 30 years now. When she was finished with preparing the mixture, she handed the plate to me. On it I saw a strange, green-coloured ingredient, which she told me was known as geranggang, or boiled seaweed. The original Rujak Kopang sauce uses shrimp paste, sugar, and chilli. Combined with pineapple, mango, and water apple, it made for a very refreshing treat, especially with the spicy sauce. I could detect a fishy smell, which, upon further investigation, originated from the geranggang and shrimp paste. It was very pungent at first, but I got used to it after a few bites. The sweet sauce, meanwhile, is made from palm sugar, so it managed to balance up my meal after the spicy attack from the original sauce.
The fact that Lombok is an island has led to its people concocting food with the local sea produce, including the aforementioned geranggang. It all depends on how creative a person is. Now that I’m back in Jakarta, I have no idea how I could get my hands on Rujak Kopang.
By Jessicha Valentina
Opposite SMPN 1 Kopang,
Desa Kopang, Lombok Tengah, Nusa Tenggara Barat
Open daily from 9.30am-5pm
Rp.3,000/US$0.20 per portion