A nuc nac fruit is flat and 40 to 80 cm in length. The fruit matures mainly in the rainy season from July to September. Thai ethnic minority people usually pick nuc nac in the forest and burn it over a charcoal fire to more easily peel off its skin. The fruit is cleaned and chopped into finger-size pieces.
|Nuc nac fruit. (Photo: VOV)
Nuc nac, which has a bitter flavor, is eaten with acrid leaves such as piper lolot and ginger leaves dipped in cham cheo, a typical herbal sauce of the Thai.
People boil nuc nac, fry it with beef or pork, or combine it with various kinds of vegetables to make salads.
Tong Thi Bien of Son La City, said the best time to eat nuc nac is when it is 40 to 50 cm in length. When it’s any older, it’s fibrous and tough.
“Some people like nuc nac salad. The fruit should be burnt before being cooked. Some boil it and cut it into pieces to mix with spices, herbs, chili, acrid leaves, sesame seeds, and peanuts. We also slice it thinly and fry it with beef or pork. The dishes are delicious and unique,” Bien said.
|Boiled nuc nac is often served with acrid leaves and cham cheo sauce, (photo: VOV)
Tay ethnic minority people in the northwestern region now grow nuc nac in their gardens as well as picking it in the wild. Nuc nac trees are easy to grow and are drought-tolerant. Quang Thi Lien, a fruit trader in Son La City, said many households sell nuc nac in the harvest season.
“In the past no one sold nuc nac. They harvested the fruit for family use only. As demand grows, Thai people now sell nuc nac in the market. I buy wholesale from farmers to sell at a produce market. On average, I sell 20 to 30 kg a day, and on some days I can sell up to 50 kg,” Lien said.
In the harvest season, nuc nac is sold at every mountain fair and every restaurant serves tourists delicious dishes made from nuc nac.
Nguyen Van Luong, who came from the central province of Ha Tinh to work in Son La City, said, “There are many kinds of fruits, vegetables, and ethnic dishes here. I see people buying a lot of nuc nac. Its bitter taste goes best with fresh leaves. It has a strange, but delicious, taste which I’ve never eaten in my hometown.”