What is it…

Actually, I blogged about it a long time ago, way back in 2008…but when I shared a photograph of it on Facebook…


…the other day, so many people said they had never seen it before while some have but they have never tried eating it and they do not know how to go about preparing it so they too do not have the slightest inkling as to what this fruit actually tastes like.

Well, this is called terbulusΒ in Melanau and in Malay, it is known as buah engkalak…and like the dabai (local black olives), it is only found growing in Central Sarawak except that today, due to its popularity and huge demand, they have planted the dabai trees elsewhere in the state so it is no longer exclusive to this part of the state any longer.

The terbulus is green when it is not ripe and it turns into this nice shade of pink when it does and that would be the indication that it is ready to be eaten. For one thing, it is not easy to harvest this very delicate fruit that grows on very big and tall trees like the dabai or the durian. You cannot just take a long bamboo pole and poke it off the tree – that would damage it completely and render it unsuitable for consumption…and you cannot wait till it is ripe as it will be too soft and there is no way that the fruit will not be damaged.

We had a tree in the compound of our old house where I grew up and everytime, my mum would get this guy from the kampung (village) who would climb up the tree and cut off the branches (while the fruits were still green and unripe). Now, he could not just let the branches fall to the ground like that, no way – what he did was he tied a rope to the branch and let it down slowly. Then he and my mum would cut the fruits off the branch with a bit of the stalks still intact like what you can see in the above photograph, handling each and everyone of them with the uttermost care. Those would be kept in the house till they changed colour which would mean that they were ripe and ready to be eaten.

Now to prepare the fruits for eating, you will have to wash/rinse the fruits and remove the stalks and put the fruits in a stainless steel pot or saucepan…


…and sprinkle some salt over them and closing the pot/saucepan, you will have to shake it to toss the fruits inside to mix them well with the salt…

Salt added

Cover the pot/saucepan and leave it for around 15-30 minutes to let the fruits “cook”. You will have to toss the pot/saucepan at regular intervals, hitting the fruits inside against the sides but you must not do it too hard especially if the fruits are very ripe as the seeds and the white part inside would all come out and you will end up with a miserable mess. As I have said earlier, this fruit is very delicate!

Some people, my mum included, would eat it with sagu (toasted sago pellets) but I am not too fond of that so I would just eat it with rice. If the fruit is not really ripe, it is slightly green inside and not as creamy…


My missus prefers it that way – she thinks it is like avocado but I would like it very ripe when it has turned all white and creamy on the inside…


…like ice cream. In the past, I would not eat the skin but I do now – it is edible and they insist that it is very good roughage so it is good for one’s bowel movement.

Well, actually it is good that not many know about the fruit or how to prepare and eat it because demand would be low and that would keep the prices down. They are selling at RM5.00 a kilo at Selangau bazaar and they sell them by the basket at the market here – RM5 per basket. As you can see, the prices are not as outrageous as those of the dabai and the durian which are not really affordable these days and I certainly hope that they will stay that way so that I can still afford to enjoy the fruit whenever it is in season.

Now, if I may digress from the fruit for a while, I just want to share a little bit here about these canned oysters…


…that we use for cooking the Foochow-style tofu soup or what we call tauhu tear. I have yet to do that but hopefully, I will get down to doing it someday so I can blog about how to go about doing that then but in the meantime, I just want to mention that I used it to fry some bihun for breakfast the other morning…


…but although it was quite nice, it did not come anywhere near the bihun fried using the canned clams in soy sauce

CC in SS

Somehow, it lacked the taste and the fragrance…


…so now I know – when I need to fry some more, I’d definitely stick to the clams and not use the oysters.

Hey, it’s Monday today…and the long end-of-year school holidays have started! Any plans to go anywhere? Sibu, perhaps?

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

32 thoughts on “What is it…”

  1. I can see your reflection on the pot! At least u r clothed! I heard in the radio the other day people ring in embarrassing situations, one guy rang n said he instagrammed his bright new shiny teapot n posted straight away to the world n then realised his vv clear reflections is on the teapot n he was only in his birthday suit Lol!

    πŸ˜€ At least my pot is sparkling clean…not like my old kuali, eh?

  2. It’s buah engkalak season! When I was a kid, I also don’t like to eat the skin. It tastes weird. ahaha. Oh yeah? The school holidays have started? Didn’t aware of it since I am busy nursing my father. huuu…

    Oh, hope he’s ok. Ya, haven’t seen you around these past few days. Take care, all.

  3. If I may, I would like to try the terbulus… something new to me… Yes, school hols has started, this morning when I drove to work, it took me around 7 minutes instead of the usual 12 minutes or so.. πŸ™‚

    You’ll have to come over to eat these. I once took to Kuching and by the time I got there, they were all spoilt already. Can’t keep well.

  4. terbulus, buah engkalak … so that’s what it called.

    I don’t remember seeing this fruits when I growing up, but a few years back when we were visited Sibu, hubby was curious about this fruit so we brought some to try. The seller told us we can eat as it is. It’s flesh is white and creamy and too me it’s a close resemblance to avocado. Unfortunately, the seller didn’t told us it’s a delicate fruits. After tried some of the fruits we left it in the car while we continue shopping. By the time we finished shopping, the warm heat of the car had cost it to over ripe until it’s even too mushy to hold ..haiz

    Yes, very hard to bring here and there, the fruit. Harder than bringing dabai – they will cook even faster and go all mushy, not edible anymore. Next time, try it my way. Much nicer, I’m sure. We only eat them like this.

  5. Terbulus…. really have not seen or eaten this before. Very curious how it tastes…and very seldom I have fruits with rice. Thanks for sharing πŸ˜€

    Oh? We eat the dabai with rice too…and durians as well.

  6. First time seeing that buah engkalak. Not the real thing but the picture only. Looks gross. Owh!!!…love the bi hun with clams. Nowadays, canned clams are so tiny. Can’t hardly see with naked eyes.

    Yes, so miserable…but thankfully, the taste is still there. I think you can get the fruit at the Satok market now, dunno where they’re from and i guess like in Sibu too, not many people know how to eat it.

  7. yeah, that would be the question i will ask “What is it??” just like the title of this post.. looks like mini mangosteeen or aubergine when i first look into that photo.. but they look cute indeed, hehe!! wow, the fried beehoon with lots and lots of clams, lovely, and i like it~~ πŸ™‚

    They were oysters. I did not use the clams, should have though – it is a whole lot nicer. Ya…so pretty in pink! And you see the whole market, all this colour…so nice.

  8. Interesting story about the fruit, never have i thought that its creamy for texture, thanks for sharing. Would love to try this thing out πŸ˜€

    Come on over. It’s in season right now! πŸ˜‰

  9. Interesting fruit! Geez, there are so many fruits over at your place that we don’t have over here 😦

    …and midin too…plus our local delicacies and culinary delights! So who says there’s nothing in Sibu/Sarawak?

  10. in the west, i think not only fruit or midin, are unavailable. my mom spent years hunting for the canned clams n oysters for her tauhu soup. in the end she totally gave up and usually buy in bulk if we ever go back to sibu.

    Oh? Is that so? My aunt from Kuching bought many cans of the oysters that day to take back to Kuching too – she said she can’t find them there. Maybe, can only get them in Foochow territory. πŸ˜›

  11. Hmm…I have never seen this before. Interesting!

    Does it need to be a stainless steel pot or can it be any pot e.g. using a Tupperware container instead.

    I guess you don’t frequent the wet/Dayak market here and the Chinese do not eat this fruit so much. In fact, I do not know if it has a Chinese name, be it Foochow or Hokkien. In my fanily, we use the Melanau name. Not sure about Tupperware but in my younger days, we used the red flowery enamel “kong”. Probably anything will do as long as it’s big enough for the number of fruits you want to prepare.

    1. I’ve only been to the Dayak market a couple of times.

      I remember going to the Rejang Park wet market as a kid, that’s where my parents went coz it’s much closer.

      I thought it needed steel for it to react, that would be very molecular gastronomy. Yeah, I know what you mean by the enamel kong, that’s what my grandma use for regular dabai too! πŸ™‚

      Yup, we use that for dabai too. Not much of these fruits at the Rejang Park market usually…or not that I’ve noticed all this while.

  12. Ohh…I’ve not come across that fruit before too.
    That canned clams…HB likes it.. but can’t get it here.

    Oh? Nice wor… Wait lah, if I see them, I’ll get and send over. No worries about delays this one.

    1. TQ… Haiyoooo……nvm la…nonit to take the trouble.
      When he goes home…he gets to eat also wan.

      Ok…ok. Sending not a problem, it is the getting angry over the horrible poslaju service in Seremban that puts me off – shortens my life only.

  13. I have never seen that fruit before. Looks delicious though. Those canned oysters my mum and grandma usually use them to cook orh Jian… Teochew style! Mmmmm…. Must track down the oysters and make for myself one day.

    Or jian? I wonder what that is like. Nice? I sure would want to try. We only use that to cook the Foochow tofu soup. You’ve never seen the fruit – I’m sure they have that in Bintulu. I bought these from Selangau – halfway between Sibu and Bintulu.

  14. Engkalak? I think i “heard” the name before, but not seen it or taste it before. How it taste like? Like dabai too?

    No, different. The ripe white ones are like ice cream – rich and creamy, so very nice.

  15. Looks delicious, but can’t really imagine the taste, gotta try when I have a chance.

    Come on over. They’re in season right now. Can;t get ’em anywhere else in the world!

  16. ooo, i’ve not heard of terbulus or engkalak … they’re totally new words for my vocabulary (hopefully i’ll be able to remember them!) πŸ˜€

    You wouldn’t get to see nor try them unless you hop over to Sibu…

  17. The fruit is new to me, I’d love to try it and see what I thought. Yep, there are many produce that will hep your bowel movements if you eat the skin.

    Ya…I did not use to eat potato & sweet potato skin either. Now I do. πŸ˜›

    1. Thanks! I have lots of interesting stuff on tap! I’ve already posted two things today and I think there were some others from yesterday, too! LOL

      Yup, saw them…gonna hop over again later.

  18. I never knew this fruit existed.. hahaha.. i’m not a fan of avocado too but i do like it when it’s avocado banana juice.. haha..

    and the fried beehoon !! OMG !!! Can I taste it???!!

    Come, come! Come to Sibu, I fry for you. πŸ˜‰

  19. Yummy! Saw it recently in a few friends’ timelines.

    You did? You saw it on mine, that’s for sure… πŸ˜‰

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at sibutuapui@yahoo.com

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