03 March, 2010

Going wild over illipe nuts

A fruiting " Engkabang" tree ( Shorea macrophylla) showing reddish brown winged fruits.
Let the illipe butter melts its flavour and enriches your rice with its highly regarded oil. Rice is never the same again.

I have a ravenous liking for illipe-buttered rice. How does it taste? For those not familiar I'll just like to describe the illipe nut taste as near to the cashew nuts. The rarity and speciality of the illipe nut tree (Shorea macrophylla) has been described in my earlier post here.
I have read recently that the illipe oil that is derived from the nuts is used as base for cosmetics (lipstick), skin moisturizing products and a substitute for cocoa butter in the making of chocolates. Whenever there is chance I'll try my best to keep stock of the illipe butter cake. They have a reputation of lasting for years at room temperature without losing its unique taste or flavour. My love for them was acquired from my grandmothers ( from both my father and mother's side) and that's as far as I could remember. Back then it was easily available but today I think it's a miracle if you can stumble upon one cake in town. Like any other indigenous trees in Sarawak , those with exportable value have seen their last hours under the unstoppable blades of bulldozers that carve new homogeneous oil palm plantations across the length and breadth of Sarawak. The fate of the engkabang tree is the saddest story of Sarawak's "development" story. Thus whenever I see an engkabang tree or its fruits I'll jump to joy and try to enjoy it in the two ways described here, that is as a salad and butter for rice.
Remove the thick skin and then soak them in water for 2-3 days.

After soaking, the fruits are boiled and reboiled repeatedly for about 4 times to remove its bitterness. After the last boiling, take a bite and if it tastes like cashew nuts, Yep! that's just right.

The boiled nuts are soft to eat. Take them with a pinch of fermented durian called "tempoyak" locally. For me, I'll can devour any amount of the sliced nuts. Well, it's part of the family tradition!!

The illipe butter in cake form standing tall on a plate of boiled illipe nuts and "tempoyak".

The above is the last step towards happiness. Having the illipe salad next to the fermented durian (Tempoyak) is indeed mouth watering. Add some slices of red chilli and a tiny pinch of sugar to the tempoyak and Oh, life is worth living. Have a joyful meal of illipe -buttered rice with
your favourite fish and that's how marvellous simple living is.


  1. looks like a marvelous and yummy treat.
    would love to try that sometime.
    i think we have a similar version of this, but, the process and the taste aren't be exactly the same.^0^

  2. hi mood! ^0^
    just gave you an award, feel free to post it if you want, just drop by my blog, tnx!

  3. From your photos and the way you described it, I can't wait to have a taste of it. It sounds just like the kind of food I like. And how do you make illipe butter?

  4. Mmm, these pictures make me very hungry. I love when you show food photography as it is so very different from what we eat here in Scandinavia. I truly prefer your meals though.;) I love rice and I think I would love this nut butter.;))
    I hope all is well dear friend.;)

  5. Dear Mahmud,
    I remember enjoying rice with illipenut butter long time ago. I really missed it.
    I have tried in every Sarawak town to find it, but so far failed.
    I appreciate if you could get some for me and call me once it is available.
    hp no. 0198862765

  6. Preparing the illipenut butter is not an easy job! The seasons is over now, we have to wait for 4 - 5 years to see it again! It is such a wonderful and amazing natural resource in Sarawak. We trade a lot of illipenut last time, but now getting lesser and lesser. Not sure how many young generation know what is illipenut!

  7. Anyone knw where got sell and how can i ship some illipe nut to singapore?


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