Twice to thrice a year we get a fruit season of the most beautiful and flavorful tropical fruits, most of which are home grown or grown on small orchards, ensuring freshness and intensity of flavors and taste. Apples, peaches, grapes, oranges et al. are so insipid in taste and looks compared to the durians, jackfruits, mangosteens, langsats, longans, cempedaks...look at what we are eating now (late July to September):
L to R: mangosteens, langsats and rambutans
Wild durians, tarap and cempedak (the last two are from the same family as the jackfruit)
I recently gave a tarap to a friend who has never eaten it before and was amused when she showed me photos of the tarap cut into 4 neat quarters. That's like killing a fly with a spade. Wey is going to demonstrate to you how to eat a tarap but before that let me tell you what I know about the tarap:
1. The tarap is a jungle fruit native to Borneo but is now cultivated in The Philippines and Indonesia.
2. You can tell if the tarap is good by looking at the spikes: if well-spaced and big, then the pulpy seeds inside will be thick and meaty. It's like eating pork fat: the texture is soft, smooth and rich. And sweet.The tarap is considered cool (yin) versus durian which is heaty (yan) which means you should eat taraps (and manggis/mangosteen, another cool fruit) after eating durians to balance the heatiness.
3. The tarap is related to the nangka (jackfruit) and the cempadak.
4.There is a local saying that a tarap, if it falls on your head, can kill you but not a durian. That is most incredible because taraps have soft spikes all over while durians ( from the Malay word 'duri' meaning thorns) have sharp, hard thorns. Despite that superstition, I'd sooner be hit with a tarap than a durian.
So how do you eat a tarap?
1, 2. Just pull it apart (the shell feels like Velcro. Sort of). Look at that white 'flesh' enclosing the seeds!
3. Grab with your fingers, like a true Bornean wildman. Tastes better when there's someone eating with you. Pop into mouth, work it around and spit out the seeds.
4. What's left is a club-like stem, good for plonking people on the head with.
Don't throw those seeds away. There are on average 40 seeds in one good tarap. The inferior tarap will give upto 80 small seeds. I can eat half a tarap but that means I can't eat dinner because it is very filling. Wash (I only handle those seeds I eat) and boil the seeds for 15 minutes, drain and toast them either in a wok or toaster oven and sprinkle salt over. It beats peanuts, macademia and some of those fancy nuts anytime.
One thing about the tarap: it smells good when you eat it but the smell, although not as 'offensive' as the durian, can last for days (esp. in the car) and sometimes I swear there's uncollected garbage around but it's only the stale smell of tarap shells after it's eaten!
p.s.it's good to have standby posts for days like this when my computer is not working. You'll notice I have posted my first diptych photos--and they are not published fully. Any change will have to wait till I get my comp. fixed. Aiya.