Our five year old Calamansi tree in our backyard is laden with fruits at this time of the year. Many Singaporeans call it “sng kum” others call it “keat lah” and in Malay, it is known as limau kasturi. I always remember this wonderful and refreshing thirst quencher during my army training in my national service days. Although we had been told by our team leader not to take any fruits without the gardener’s permission or even if they were found growing in an abandoned fruit orchard within the training area. It was just impossible for every mother’s son not to pocket such a tempting thirst quencher along the training route.
The fruit of the calamansi resembles a large marble, usually 25-35mm in diameter, but sometimes up to 40mm. These limes have a distinct aroma with a very thin green peel and turning orange when ripen. When cut opened, it reveals a yellow or orange flesh. Many first time taster are mistaken by it appearance and aroma and often leads to a pleasant surprise, the taste of the fruit itself is quite sour, though the peel is sweet. It is often used as a condiment for a variety of dishes from the spicy sautéed rice noodle called Mee Siam to Mee Rebus and the juice are often squeezed into pounded sambal belachan just before serving. The peels are not discarded but added into the sambal belachan to provide a unique flavour.
SAMBAL BELACHAN RECIPE:
150g red chillies
50g belachan, toasted
3 pcs. Kasturi lime juice
Using the mortar and pestle, pound chilli until seeds are finely grounded. Add belachan and blend into the chilli to form a thick consistency paste. Add lime juice and peel before serving.