Bambangan - Gastro Obscura
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Fruits & Vegetables

Bambangan

Find this rare, savory mango on the periphery of Borneo markets with other odorous fruit.

Compared to other mangoes, Borneo’s bambangan stands out for a few reasons. It looks different, with rough brown skin and a hefty size (a single fruit can reach more than five pounds). It smells different, with ripe varieties emitting a funky, durian-like aroma. And it certainly tastes different, with a savoriness reminiscent of French onion soup and eggs hovering over a base of sourness.

Most mango lovers have enjoyed only the common mango, also known as Mangifera indica. The bambangan, however, is Mangifera pajang. Labeled as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the rare variety is found only on the island of Borneo, particularly in the state of Sabah.

Although some people do enjoy the fruit on its own, it is most commonly used in cooking.  Bambangan-based salads, chutneys, and pickles are particularly popular. Pickles are made by slicing the fruit and mixing it with chilies, salt, and shavings of the fruit’s large, white seed. After a week in an airtight container, the pickles are used as an accompaniment to fish dishes.

Need to Know

These fruits can be sometimes be found in markets throughout the island of Borneo, but are easiest to find in the East Malaysian state of Sabah. Due to their smell, they are often found alongside durians on the periphery of local markets rather than inside.

Where to Try It
  • This is a small street directly across from Kota Kinabalu's Central Market. Officially known as Jalan Segama, it's nicknamed "Durian Street" because it's a great place to find fruits too smelly for the market.

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Contributed by
Jared Rydelek Jared Rydelek
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