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Engkalak fruits are spherical and small, averaging 2-5 centimeters in diameter, and have a curved, pointed green cap. The thin outer skin is green when immature and gradually transforms into a bright pink and then a deep red when ripe. The cream-colored inner flesh is soft and malleable and encases one large, inedible brown seed. Engkalak has a smooth and creamy texture, similar to an avocado, and has a mild, sweet taste reminiscent of buttermilk.
Engkalak is available late fall through winter.
Engkalak, botanically classified as Litsea garciae, belongs to the Lauraceae family which includes avocados and bay trees. Also known as Butter fruit, the Borneo Avocado, Buah Tebuluh, Tebulus, Wuru Lilin, Kupa, Bagnolo, Lan Yu Mu, and Ta'ang, there are two varieties of Engkalak, Engkalak bulan being larger and Engkalak bintang being smaller but richer in taste. It takes five years from planting for the Engkalak tree to bear fruit. This once wild and indigenous fruit is now being grown commercially in the districts of Kuching and Bau in Sarawak, Borneo.
Engkalak contains some vitamin C, potassium, antioxidants, and fiber.
Engkalak is best suited for preserving and cooked preparations such as boiling. It is most popularly enjoyed boiled or placed in warm water for five minutes, drained, and then sprinkled with salt. Sago seed, which is a snack food created with Sago flour, can also be sprinkled on the fruits for an added crunchy bite. The fruits can also be enjoyed with hot rice and soy sauce. Engkalak fruits can be preserved as pickles using unripe fruits and a salt solution or vinegar. Engkalak fruits will keep for a couple of days when stored in a cool and dry place.
Engkalak is one of the traditional foods of the Iban people in Borneo. In addition to using the fruits for food, the Iban people also use the bark of the tree to treat insect stings, boils, burns, and snakebites.
Engkalak was originally discovered growing wild and is believed to be native to Borneo. Today, Engkalak is commercially cultivated and grown in villages and can be found in local markets across Borneo, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, and Taiwan.
Recipes that include Engkalak. One is easiest, three is harder.
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