This is buah salak, scientifically known as salacca zalacca, or snakeskin fruit in English.

Buah salak (snakeskin fruit)

Buah salak (snakeskin fruit)

It’s a fruit native to Malaysia and Indonesia, closely resembling the size and shape of a fig…but — as its name suggests — with a skin like that of a snake.

Don’t be scared of its reptile-like outer covering. Just break off the top portion of the fruit and the skin will tear apart quite easily, revealing the garlic-like cloves inside.

Buah salak peeled

Buah salak peeled

And don’t start eating it just yet. You must rub your thumb back and forth over the flesh… so that this thin waxy layer can be peeled off.

A thin but waxy layer

A thin but waxy layer

Continue rubbing until you can peel the whole paper-thin layer off. It’s actually edible but it feels weird on the tongue and is better off removed.

Keep on rubbing...

Keep on rubbing…

Now, you can take a bite of the sweet, juicy, firm flesh. The texture can range from dry and crumbly (salak pondoh from Yogyakarta) to moist and crunchy (salak Bali). Just watch out for the seed inside — it’s hard as stone.

Watch out for the seed!

Watch out for the seed!

The seed looks like a polished chestnut, doesn’t it?

The seed of the buah salak

The seed of the buah salak

Almost seems like a shame to throw these beauties away…

Buah salak seeds resembling chestnuts

Buah salak seeds resembling chestnuts

So the next time you see these bizarre-looking fruits peddled by the roadside, give them a try!

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