Thursday, December 25, 2008

Fruits of Borneo Island: Asam Embang

Asam Embang or Mangifera PanjangAhhh...I am puckering my lips right now while writing this. Asam Embang, is what we call this almost prehistoric looking fruit, one of the mango family, with its scientific name, Mangifera Panjang. It is found almost everywhere in Borneo and in Kuching, Sarawak, you can find this at the market. The brown almost scaly skin is almost half an inch thick and the only way to get those juicy fibrous flesh is by scoring the skin about quarter to half an inch with a knife in sections. Just be careful with the sap that comes out of its skin, as it will burn your skin a bit. (click on image for a bigger view) The skin of this fruit is edible. The yellow flesh is sweet and sometimes a bit on the tart side when not completely ripe, and can be eaten either raw as is, into mango relish or added in your dish to add the sweet sour flavor of the fruit. Either way you have it, is good.

My favorite is like how my mother and grandmother did it to keep us quiet. Chopped the flesh of the fruit and add water and a bit of sugar and pour it cold into a glass especially when its so hot outside! Yeah, that will keep us quiet and content when we were kids, chewing the fibrous sweet fruit and drinking at the same time.

Then, when we are able to stand the heat in food, the relish is served. Made by, again, chopping the fruit small, add it into the sambal that is of shrimp paste, chili, a bit of anchovies pound together. This is eaten with warm rice. Ahhhh..divine!

Adding this to a fish dish made of a mix of crushed lemon grass, dried chili, a bit of turmeric, half of an onion, cut in wedges, crushed garlic, fish of your choice, I prefer white flesh fish, or better yet, dried smoked fish and sliced Asam Embang. All these ingredients into a pot with water just enough or a bit more covering all the ingredients makes all the difference. Simmer away. yummmm...

The Sambal Asam or Mango Relish with the Sweet Sour Fish and Hot White Rice, a sunny day, a soft breeze and coconut trees rustling in the background is a beautiful imagination in my head when the truth is, its cold and white outside my window right now.

A Merry Christmas, everyone!

As of now, I am still in a quest of finding another mango which most called the Asam Binjei or Binjai. White Flesh Mango! An opposite texture to this Asam Embang, white and silky smooth, but oh so good!

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