Embawang is in fact a wild fruit found in the equatorial regions and some of the best fruits are found in the Rejang and Baram River valleys of Sarawak. However today many of the indigenous people have learned to select the best seeds to produce the best trees. So today in Sarawak and Sabah you can get both the wild and domesticated embawang and they are more or less the same.
When you buy this fruit in the tamu or market you might by chance choose a very sweet one and on another occasion you get a really sour one. The sweet ones can be eaten on their own. The sour ones have to be eaten as a salad eaten with limes and ikan bilis or sambal belacan. Many years ago we coated the embawang slices with generous portions of sugar. Some very ingenious housewives have even made jam out of embawang.
Embawang trees grow up to as high as 200 feet tall. The canopy is not very widespread but the tree has many branches which are usually found nearly at the top of the tree. There are not branches further down the trunk like the rambutan tree. Each good tree can produce up to 500 to 800 fruits per season. One must never walk or play under an embawang tree that is full of ripening embawang on a windy day. It has been known that the fruit has been responsible for the deaths of many men and women. I was told that even a crash helmet cannot save your life should an embawang falls on your head.
These photos show you how to prepare the fruit for eating.
(You must make the first cut at the top of the fruit )
(Make about six or seven longitudinal cuts from the top to almost the bottom)
(The skin of the fruit completely taken of the flesh - this is quite a skill.)
(You make thick slices of the embawang)
(the large seed of the embawang)
We seldom eat embawang by itself. The fruit can be eaten with rice as part of the meal or as a dessert at the end of the meal. I like my rice with salted fish and embawang and perhaps another salad. Some steamed or fried bitter gourd would enhance the meal so that you have all the five tastes of salty, sweet, bitter , chilli or spicy and sour altogether.
(Tip: always have a layer of newspaper under your cutting board to make cleaning up easier. The fruit is very juicy and it leaves behind a very strong sourish smell.)