Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Embawang- it is in season now

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.)

18 memories:

Bengbeng said...

i might try it after reading this post. i have seen it countless times but as it is foreign looking, i never bothered to have a second look at it.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

The embawang is treasured by the Bruneians and the Sabahans who even serve this fruit when it is in season as a special tourist dish with their special salt fish and sambal.

I use the embawang (when it is sold at 20 sen each) as part of my vanilla icecream -raisin-rambutan-jackfruit - dates -nuts dessert. I call it the Magnificient Seven. When you give a dish a good name it becomes very popular with family and friends.

Many of our elders had embawang with their hot rice.

Tip: cut it open only when the skin is softer. Ask the fruit vendor for advice.

Unknown said...

Embawang is the wild relative of mango. Both are different species. Embawang is mangifera pajang while mango is mangifera indica (indica means originally from india).

Unknown said...

Embawang by right should be refer to as Borneo's mango as it is only found in Borneo.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Hi Gaharuman

That's the very fact I needed to establish! So we are very correct to say that Embawang is native to Borneo only.

This is really exciting because some Indonesian friends of mine have tried to grow embawang in Aceh area and in West Malaysia. Not successful at all.

the government should tried to process the embawang as dried fruit like dried mangos in the Philippines. Embawang can also be turned into embawang sweets. Its sourish sweetness is a refreshing taste.

All the best.

all3 said...

Hey,thanks for the info. I must get this and bring back to semenanjung. Let people there try it.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Hi All3
Thanks for visiting. Yes this is indeed a unique and rare gift to bring back but you need to wrap the fruit up properly in several layers of newspapers. Luckily it really has a thick skin!!

Foochows used to say skin as thick as a mawan.(Short form of embawang)


The Observer said...

The embawang is rather versatile as a ingredient in salad.
Use it as a half ripe fruit like mango and do a sambal dried prawns embawang salad with lots of onions and lime juice. Wonderful.

Half ripe embawang can also be fried like a vegetable.

And it can be pickled too like bamboo shoot.

Ketam said...

We called it "BaChang" in Bau town.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Do you folks in Bau eat it in different ways?

How do you like it prepared?

I did not realise until now it is unique to Borneo!!

Thanks for visiting.

Daniel Yiek said...

It makes my mouth squirm with sour thoughts when I see this fruit. Very sour at times

I Am Sarawakiana said...

My friend's tree gives very sweet fruits and we usually have abundant harvest. We eat them when they are almost ripe and when they are very ripe. Price at the market is 2 ringgit each.

In the Baram they can be as low as 20 cent at peak season.

Unfortunately they come at the same time as the Durian and the Dabai. So the embawang is a poor bronze medallist so to speak.

In another post I will feature a salad made from this fruit.

Thanks for visiting!

David Chin said...

Your photos of the ma-chang (hakka name) made my mouth water already lah!

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Welcome David....I am trying to improve my photographic skills...

Machang is in season. Do you know that Bruneians are willing to pay up to Bru$5 for a good large one?

When we were young we used to collect five hard ones and used them as huge marbles. We would shoot with another one. Just kids' game. Those were the days of plenty.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

By the way I "stole" one of your sis' photos for CS' blog as we do not have one of her latest. This is a strange way of getting your permission. Sorry about that.


David Chin said...

Next time Sawan comes back, you fill his car boot full of machang for him to sell to all the rich hajis in Brunei. It could be more lucrative than practicing law in Bandar.

David Chin said...

Thanks for making me and my sister world famous. Are you also the author of bluetanjong?

I Am Sarawakiana said...

No BT belongs to the one who can really remember all those stories. Very genuine writer. Expert and excellent historian.

He only does not have photos or photographic skills.


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