Oh yes ……., our mangoes rock!

 Hohohohoho…., here come our mangoes………

While homegrown and cultivated mangoes are mostly sweet and not sour at all, the wild mangoes in Borneo and other parts of Malaysia exhibit a totally different look and aroma while at the same time, stimulate your taste buds to give you an unforgettable and exciting experience of their extreme sour taste and fibrous fruits. Personally I like these wild mangoes better than the cultivated ones because they are generally sourish sweet but planting them needs a big space and take a long time to yield fruits.


                                      Buah mawang/embang/bambangan/embawang

This buah mawang(Mangifera panjang Kosterm.) shown above is a big brown fruit weighing 800g-2kg with length measuring up to 18 cm and width 15 cm. Hakka people call it 人头酸 (Human head mango) or Mou. It is my favorite mango. A single fruit can weigh up to 1 kg or more and one variety has fruits as big as human head. There are 2 varieties. The one shown here  is the smaller, less fibrous and  is sweeter than the other type. A kind of aroma uniquely belongs to the mango family exudes from this fruit. Its flesh is fibrous and yellowish orange in color. This is great for making juice and mango jam, if only we can tame the tree which is usually of height 30-60m. Its juice is really a super drink, creamy and fragrant. One can get head injury if it drops on one’s head. They are known to be more lethal than falling durians. Kids and the elders should be given its juice instead of the fibrous and sour flesh.

I remembered once I was caught waiting for the fruits to drop under the tall tree of almost 60m height near my uncle’s house. Needless to say, I had long lectures one after another by every adult in the family. Practically nobody wants to climb up its tree because of its height so waiting for them to drop naturally  is the right thing to do.


asam kubang
Asam kumbang

The one shown above is Asam kumbang(Mangifera quadrifida Jack) which is my second favorite mango. Hakka people call it 黑皮酸-Heipisuan which means black skin mango. It is so juicy and pleasantly sour.  The fruits are oval in shape and have diameter of around 5-6 cm. The immature fruits are green and on ripening, turn reddish purple in colour. Peel the  dark purple skin to reveal the inner pinkish purple skin attached to the flesh. The flesh is light yellow in colour and is juicy, not sweet, not very sour and fibrous. All these features make it a good fruit for quenching thirst. It is not possible to cut slices out of the fruit because of its fibrous flesh. To enjoy its juicy flesh to the fullest, just peel the skin and suck the juice.

Buah mawang and asam kumbang are very good fruits for diabetic people because they are a bit sweet but pleasantly sour. I like the taste of these two mangoes. Personally I think buah mawang has great potential to be commercialized because of its juicy and heavenly sour flesh. A powerful blender is needed to blend its  fibrous flesh.


                            Buah bacang

The other type is semi wild asam bacang(mangifera foetida jack) which is quite common in West Malaysia also. Asam bacang is oval shaped and is less aromatic than the previous two. Green asam bacang are made into pickles. Most natives and the malays here eat asam with ikan belis and chillies. The peels from these mangoes do not irritate our lips like the kuini and the fruits do not have strong smell like it too. Asam bacang is not as juicy and tasty as buah mawang and asam kumbang. Its flesh tastes sour and not as sweet as kuini fruit.


       Kuini, the green skined  and odorous mango.

Kuini(Mangifera odorata Griff.) is cultivated everywhere in Malaysia. The medium size fruit develops a distinctive odor as it ripens which is unique of Kuini. Its fruit remains green even on ripening. The flesh is yellow, sweet and not as fibrous as the three species of mangoes mentioned above. It presence can be felt by its aromatic smell which penetrates every inch of the area where it is found. The peels from kuini can be irritating to our lips and cause itchy tongue.

The problem of this mango is its fruits may look fresh green outside but once cut, very often reveal ‘bad apple’ inside. You can safely say that it is always 50 % chance to get fruits with rotten seeds inside. Unlike buah mawang and other wild mangoes, it does not have tough skin to protect it from pests.


Bacang/Macang is always bigger than the round shaped Lamantan.
This macang measures 15 cm  x 12 cm and the lamantan  9 cm  x  7 cm.

Buah lamantan has light green skin with dark spots on it and looks very much like buah bacang except that it is smaller and rounder. It is also much less odorous than kuini but stronger than that of bacang. It is quite rare. Most often mistaken for small bacang, buah kemantan is not very popular because of its sour flesh of coarse texture plus the strong odor.


Buah mempelam/ampelam/manggaAsam mempelam/empelam/mangga

Buah mempelam(Mangifera indica L.) is a small green mango which is widely used for making mango pickle known as Jeruk mangga in Malaysia. Its fruit is about 8 cm long and 5 cm wide with bright green colour skin. The skin turns from dark green to yellowish green on ripening. The fruit is extremely sour and the baby fruit is crunchy. This make the baby fruits a perfect choice for making jeruk mangga, the mango pickle.

Cut 500 g of immature buah mempelam into slices or thin wedges without the skin. Soaked in 500 ml of brine(500 g bottled water plus 1-2 tbs of rock salt) for 36 hours. Pour away the water after 1 1/2 -2 days. Add 5 tbs of ground rock sugar followed by just enough bottled water to cover the mango slices. The pickles are ready in two days.


                            Mini Asam kumbang – the colourful Asam Raba (Mangifera griffithii).

Here is another type of wild mangoes that is not very common even in Sarawak. It is like mini Asam Kumbang with  purplish red skin when it is ripened. The fruit measures 3 cm x 2.5 cm. The thin, fibrous and attractive orange flesh is thin but juicy and sourish sweet. To relish the juicy fruit, just peel the skin and suck the heavenly juice. Oh, it is so juicy, like eating plums from China but sweeter and more juicy. Its skin turns from green to different shades of red and finally on ripening,becomes purplish red. The green and immature raba are used in preparation of pickles, just like the mempelam/empelam.


       Seaweed pickle with mangoes
Seaweed pickles with homegrown mangoes
  • 3 half ripe mangoes ( 1 kg more or less )
  • 25 g seaweed
  • 3 chillies
  • 3 limes – extract the juice
  • 1 tbs light soya sauce
  • 1 tbs roasted white sesame seeds                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
Preparing the seaweed


  1. Steam the seaweed or dry kelp without washing for 30 minutes.
  2. Cut into bite size pieces and dry them in the sun.
  3. Keep in a container for later use.
  4. Soak in water for 15  minutes and clean thoroughly before use.
  5. Cut the mangoes into thin slices and the seaweed into long strips.
  6. Mix all the ingredients together. Dust the dish with seasame seeds.

This is a great dish for dinner. Do not eat this with rice. Light meal like this is good for dinner.


Home grown mangoes
Home grown mangoes

My problem with homegrown mangoes is they are just too sweet and just plainly sweet without sour taste. Sometimes I just squeeze buah kumbang juice by hands and mix this dish with it.

There was once somebody asked me this question,” How come your mangoes are so sweet? What did you feed the tree with? “

” What else ? I feed it with sugar water la…….”

Eventually somebody’s mango tree died of ‘diabetes’. Oops! Not my fault………..



                           Oh yes, oh ya, oh yeah…………

                                 Let’s go mango a go go………

                                         Our mangoes rock !









Copyright claim – Do not crop any pictures from malaysiavegetarianfood.com. Do not share our pictures without any watermarked signature on them. Excerpts from our articles to be credited to malaysiavegetarianfood.com.