April 2014



Palm Sugar (Gula Melaka)

Palm sugar is made from the sap of the palm tree. Fresh palm sap is boiled down shortly after collection to make concentrated heavy palm syrup. This syrup is poured into bamboo sections to form cylindrical shapes, or into small shallow bowls to form shallow hemi-spheres. The sugar range from, almost white through pale honey-gold to a deep, dark brown, with varying consistency.

Palm sugar is used throughout South East Asia – for both savoury and sweet dishes.

Pea Eggplant (Terung Pipit)

Pea Eggplant grows in clusters of tiny spheres with a tough skin and a bitter taste. They are used whole in curries in South East Asia. It is eaten raw with Fish Sauce (nam prik) in Thailand.


Pepper is a round berry that grows in trailing clusters. These berries start off a deep green and turn red as they ripen.

Black Pepper is obtained by drying the green berries in the sun, which makes the outer skin black and shriveled.

White pepper is obtained by packing the ripe berries in sacks, soaking them in slow flowing water for eight days and then rubbing them off the soften outer skin. The inner portion is then dried in the sun for several days until it turns a creamy white.

White pepper is hotter than black pepper, but it is not as fragrant.


Native to South America, the pineapple is really a cluster of fruits of the Ananas tree that combine to form one ‘multiple fruit’.

The pineapple is one of the most popular of all tropical fruits. It is available all year round, and therefore it makes an excellent dessert fruit. It can be bought fresh, dried or canned. This fruit is delicious eaten ripe.

In Asia, semi-ripe pineapple is used in sour soups and curries.

Pounded Chili and Roasted Shrimp Paste (Sambal Belacan)

This popular malay style Samal is made with fresh chilli’s pounded together with toasted shrimp paste, lime juice and sugar. Sometimes, tomatoes or Mangos are added for extra flavour.

Sambal belacan (Bel-lat-chan) is a pungent prawn paste that is used in a variety of Malay recipes. Only a small amount needs to be used to add flavour to a dish. Most oftensold in blocks.

Preserved Shrimps (Cencaluk)

These preserved shrimps make a feisty and flavourful dip when mixed with some lime juice and sliced chilies. The pinkish condiment, when poured straight out of the bottle, gives off a smell that is disagreeable to most people. Like dried prawn paste (belacan), it needs to be combined with other ingredients to bring out its best.

Pumpkin (Labu)

Originating in tropical South or Central America, pumpkins are now widely distributed throughout the tropics. This vegetable – can weigh up to 4-5 kilograms (8 ¾ pounds – 10 pounds 15 ounces) and comes in various shapes and sizes.

The colour of the flesh ranges from yellow through orange to grey green. They can be puréed to make soups, and they can be roasted, fried or even baked. They can also be stuffed and cooked.


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