[Malaysia] Is Buah Kulim (Jungle Garlic) the More Sustainable Alternative to Truffle?

The latest article in the Michelin Guide looks at a “new” food source - the “Buah Kulim” or “jungle garlic” of South-east Asia.


I’ve asked a few Sabahans and guess what, none has heard of buah kulim. They have “learnt something new from a foreign tourist” :sweat_smile:

Doubting its existence and asking how I knew of it, I told them you have written about it in a recent article. :sweat_smile: :laughing:

Hitting the market shortly and inspecting vegetable stalls (unless it’s not in season right now).

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It may become trendy as it’s own thing, but I wouldn’t consider something typically used as a sub for onions & garlic to be a sub for truffles.

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Imagine the ghost of a garlic gliding through a truffle, leaving the haunting scent of its presence behind. That’s the buah Kulim. Once tasted, never forgotten.

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The East Malaysians/Borneans hardly use it, compared to the indigenous tribal folks in West Malaysia.

Interestingly, its Latin name is Scorodocarpus borneensis - which points to its Bornean presence.
I dug a bit into that during my research for the article: the plant got its Latin “borneensis” moniker from its mention by Italian botanist, Odoardo Beccari, in Mount Matang, Borneo (present-day Sarawak, East Malaysia), in May 1866.

A description (in Italian) under the name Scorodocarpus borneensis Becc. is available in the Nuovo Giornale Botanico Italiano, where Beccari had attributed to it a very strong garlic odor - “fortissimo odore de aglio.” It grows naturally in Borneo, Peninsula Malaysia, Southern Thailand and Sumatera, Indonesia.

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