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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Buah Tarap – Borneo’s Unique Tropical Fruit

It smells like a burning tire but tastes like the sweetest custard apple.

opening a buah tarap

We are really happy to be living here in Sarawak. Time and again, the kindness and the generosity of the people here simply blow us away. Last month, when we invited our friend Paul and his family over for a big, home-cooked Japanese meal of miso soup, niku-jaga, kabocha no nimono, and sesame salad with chicken, they brought over a couple of these unique fruits called “buah tarap” to eat for dessert.

Borneo Native

Buah tarap (also called Marang) is a fruit that is native to Borneo. They are related to breadfruit and jackfruit. I have seen it in season in December, around the same time as the durian season. The fruits are about the same size and shape as a durian. However, the spines of the tarap are soft and rubbery compared to the hard, thorny spines of the durian.

The fruit does not fall when it ripens – usually they are harvested green and allowed to ripen off the tree. As they ripen, the outer rind turns from green to brownish-yellow. It also gives off a distinctive odor, that I liken to the smell of burning tires. Maybe that’s why buah tarap’s scientific name is Artocarpus odoratissimus!

Contrary to the difficulties in opening fruits like durian or jackfruit, the buah tarap is very easy to open. As the above picture shows, you simply pry apart the rind, which cleanly separates from the inner fruit. The fruit arils are all nestled inside, attached loosely to the stem.

opened buah tarap

These arils are similar in shape to a jackfruit, but they are not sticky nor slippery. The flesh is a creamy white. You could pick them off the stem – they come off with a slight twist/tug – or you can use a fork to gently lift them off. Once you have one, just pop it in your mouth!

buah tarap fruit aril

The fruit itself is soft and creamy. It tastes like the sweetest custard apple or soursop, but it is smooth, not grainy. And just a bare hint of tartness. The flesh is easily separated from the small seed with your teeth. The seeds (or biji) themselves are edible. You just wash them, dry them overnight, then roast them in the oven. They taste like roasted nuts!

buah tarap fruit 2

The fruits are so yummy and so easy to eat, one person could devour it alone in no time. After our party finished off one buah tarap for dessert, Paul left us with one more green fruit to enjoy in the following days. And he had also brought a big bag of buah tampoi that we all also enjoyed. See? Talk about generosity!

buah tarap fruit

The only downside was having to endure the burning tire smell in the house for a few days while the fruit ripened. But we got over it. ;-)

Aloha, Nate

I am entering this post into the 217th edition of Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Anna's Cool Finds, and administered by Haalo.

Hungry for more interesting fruits? Click below:

Fruits of Serian





Carolyn Jung said...

That looks even more crazy scary than the time you guys tore open that jackfruit in my kitchen! Hah!

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

I dont think I have try this before.

Fruit Maven said...

Oh I am so excited to see this fruit. I have never heard of it. Would love love to try it! I am adding it to my list.

I am blogging my way through the fruit world. It's crazy fun! The most tropical thing I have had so far was the Dr. White Cherimoya, which I got at the San Diego farmer's market. Last night I picked up some mangosteen at the asian market. Had never had one before. I can see why they are called the Queen of Fruit. They also had huge jackfruit at the market, but I wasn't quite prepared to buy a fruit that BIG. This weekend maybe.

I have found some really fun citrus lately (not tropical, but very cool)like the Mandarinquat and the Limequat (review to come in the next few days).

Anyway, really enjoying your site. Thanks for sharing you world.

Bob said...

The structure and form of that fruit is amazing, the plant guy in me finds it utterly fascinating.

Claudia said...

I think it would grow in Hawaii. I'll have to add it to our orchard (a continually growing thing), but when the day comes, will let it ripen out on a corner of the deck.

smile4me8p said...

burning tires, huh? i don't know if i could get over that. you sometimes wonder how ppl ever try them out the first time if no one introduces it to them. i guess it's true - asians eat EVERYTHING =)

Nate @ House of Annie said...

@all - thanks for your comments!

@Carolyn - I think the team effort in your kitchen was more fun!

Sonia - hope you get to try some. They are delicious!

@Fruit Maven - you're not likely to see this outside of Southeast Asia. There are so many fruits here that I'm sure you'd go wild over.

Thanks for enjoying our world! Stay tuned, because there are a lot more Bornean fruits we want to talk about.

@Bob - yes, they're really unique. The insides are like a jackfruit but the outside is really neat.

@Claudia - if you can grow jackfruit and breadfruit in Hawaii, you can grow this. Would love to visit your garden one day!

@It's not chokingly strong, but definitely noticeable when you walk in the house.

Anonymous said...

This is so interesting. I wish I am back home as seeing pictures of these local fruits really make me so homesick!! I have never tried buah tarap before. Certainly have to visit Sarawak on my next home trip :)


Jo said...

Oh gosh! I don't think I've ever seen this in Kuala Lumpur before. It looks very much like a jackfruit, both the outer skin and inner flesh.

Joan said...

It seems to be only available in Borneo. My mum still have fond memories of having Tarap, but has difficulty finding it when we visit Sabah. She has never spotted Taraps in Kuala Lumpur.

Tuty said...

I certainly learn something new today. I am from Indonesia and have never seen nor heard such fruit.

I'm glad that you guys wrote about it before Andrew Zimmern reported this. I dread to hear the adjectives he would use to describe this.

Can't wait to read more of your fruit adventure in Sarawak. Thank you guys!

Fanny @ YummySF said...

Looks very close to a durian. Wish we had some Buah Tarap here in the States.

WendyinKK said...

On my last trip to Sarawak, I made it a must to try as many Bornean fruits as possible. But this is one of those that I missed!!! Darn!!

I still remember the belimbing hutan, the pink fruit that has a very nice shape and lines on the skin, but taste like a langsat to me :) Kerinchi, Salak, and most of all tho not a fruit, Ulat Sago. Eeeewww!!! Yummy.

Jenn/CinnamonQuill said...

This looks like it belongs in a sci-fi movie. Still, you've made it sound very tasty, and I think I'm brave enough to give it a try! :)

Nate @ House of Annie said...

@Eliz - looking forward to seeing you!

@Jo - they're related, but not quite the same. I don't know if many get over to West Malaysia.

@Joan - really, even in Sabah it's hard to find? Wow. Thanks for the insight!

@Tuty - I'm sure Zimmern would have loved it. It's nothing like durian.

@Fanny - unfortunately, I don't think this fruit would survive the trip. Guess you'll just have to come over here! :D

@Wendyywy - we've had belimbing, but not the others you've mentioned. There are so many foods indigenous to Borneo that it's incredible. I don't know how we're going to be able to eat it all! :-)

@Jenn - no need to be afraid of this fruit. It's delicious, trust me.

Amy said...

Wow these are great pictures, and I've never seen this particular fruit before! Wish I could get these in New York.