Cultivating a taste for tajok nyuk
By:Nura V Lorna

DARO: Heart of Palas palm, better known as tajok nyuk by the Sarawak Melanau community is usually harvested from the inner core of a tropical forest plant, the Palas palm tree.

It also known scientifically as Licuala Grandis, a genus of palm in the Trachycarpeae tribe, according to the Sarawak Information Department (JaPen).

In Melanau language, tajok means heart of palm whereas nyuk means Palas, the palm tree. It has a bit of bitter taste but is said to be delicious if it suits one’s palate and if cooked in the right way.

In Sarawak, Kampung Badong in Daro is one of the places where the forest plants can be found if one wants to try the local delicacies.

For the Melanau community in the village, tajok nyuk is one of the favourites that is not only a daily side dish but also served in a feast.

Heart of Palas palm is usually simmered, and sometimes a fresh fish or smoked fish can be added into the cooking for extra depth of flavour.

Hasimi Hassan

Kampung Bedong head Haslimi Hassan, 46, said apart from obtaining tajok nyuk in the forest, a few villagers also grow the plant on a small scale in their own backyard as one of the daily sources of food.

For sales purposes, he said tajok nyuk in the district was only available at the Kampung Badong Community Stall, a one -stop place for the collection and trade of agricultural or forest produce and the fisheries of the villagers there.

“The tajok nyuk at the Badong Village Community Stall is sent by villagers from Kampung Badong and nearby villages in the district who work as forest produce collectors,” he said.

Robiah Omar, 36, tajok nyuk trader

Robiah Omar, 36, one of the traders at the booth who sells tajok nyuk, said she sells a three -piece tajok nyuk for RM6.

“Usually, the villagers will go to the forest in the Bruit Island area to take the local produce and send their revenue to this booth in the same afternoon to maintain its freshness and taste.

“Due to its high demand, the sales of the tajok nyuk at my stall stretches for a maximum of two days before everything is sold out as it is often purchased by not only Daro residents, but also from nearby areas such as Matu and Sibu,” Robiah explained.

Robiah added that the amount of supply of tajok nyuk she sells is irregular (estimated between 30 and 60 bunches of three-piece tajok nyuk a day).

However, she is grateful that the supply is always available as the palm species are not seasonal plants.

Haslimi also stated his plan for the produce to be commercialised by the villagers of Kampung Badong to generate more revenue.

As such, Haslimi intends to work on a mini farm with the villagers who are interested to join including those who have an unoccupied land to produce not only the tajok nyuk, but also reap its saplings and the shoots of the palm tree that are often used to make palm ketupat.

“When it (the palm tree) is cultivated, we can also protect the plant from extinction because the seeds of the trees are re -sown to produce more of the species,” he said.

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