Monday 4 November 2013

Miri market mysteries

It is simple. I love markets. It does not matter much what they sell, antiques, bric a brac, made-in-China plastic tat. I love it all. Best of all: food markets. My husband gets a very heavy foot whenever we pass a market on the road, but for me, markets are the highlight of any holiday. Off course we had to see all the markets when we visited Miri, the city where I lived as a child in Sarawak, Borneo, a few weeks ago. Since we were staying in a hotel, I could not buy any of these lovely foodstuffs, so there rested no other option than to take my camera, and shoot away. Today I share my treasures. 

The colours of markets can make every casual snap a piece of art. 

This vegetable on the left is midin, or lemidin, and it can only be found in Sarawak. They are the tops of wild jungle fern, and served stir fried with sambal or cooked with Chinese wine and garlic. I have rarely eaten a tastier vegetable, and dream of it still. The pink flowers on the right, in the small pink bowl, are ginger flowers, used for laksa, and I imagine the flowers and leaves in the middle are of the ginger family as well. 

So pretty, but I have no clue. Some type of aubergine?

These guys, petai, we find in Singapore as well, but here the thick, juicy beans you buy shelled from their long, winding pods. The petai, or stink bean, grows wild as well, on tall trees. It's flavour is surprising, lovely with prawn and sambal, and will make your urine (and some say breath) stink. 

Displays like this make my mouth water. The beans on the left are winged beans, which have a funny shape when you cut them, that gave them the name 'star beans' in our house, one of my futile attempt to make my kids think of vegetables as fun. 

Bario rice. This rice, from the mountain area of Bario, is famous, and full of flavour. I kick myself now, why did I think bringing some home would be too heavy for my suitcase?

This is a mystery. Ikat, unfortunately, is not the name of this mysterious vegetable (or fruit?), it simple means bundle. My mother suggested it could be batu raga, a wild type of mango, but I am not sure as the shape is different. 

P'ria, or bitter gourd, looks like a wrinkled cucumber, very pretty, but it is a bit of an acquired taste. It is definitely growing on me, though. 

Not a clue what this is..

Just sereh, lemongrass, but I love the presentation. Beats any supermarket cling film hands down. Markets. Gotta love 'em. 


  1. Great photos, makes me hungry although I wouldn't know what to do with them! I only recognized the bitter gourd and lemongrass. As much as I like the wet mkts in SG would be great to see this sort of thing. Borneo is on my long list of places to visit as Dad was there 50/60s and loved it

  2. What a great collection of pictures! I remember some of these fruits and vegetables from Indonesia where we lived for a couple of years. I often think of them as Mother Nature's art. All that stuff you buy in the frozen section in boxes and bags in a supermarket just don't do it!

  3. the second last pic, people called it jerin.. :)