Pangium edule (Indonesian: keluak or keluwak; Malay: kepayang) is a tall tree native to the mangrove swamps of Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea). It produces a large poisonous fruit (the "football fruit") which can be made edible by fermentation.
Ecology and cultivation
The tree requires many years to mature and the seeds are therefore most frequently harvested from wild trees, as it is not economically feasible to cultivate. Although poisonous to humans, the seeds of the tree form part of the natural diet of the babirusa (Babyroussa babyrussa).
The fresh fruit and seeds contain hydrogen cyanide and are deadly poisonous if consumed without prior preparation. The seeds are first boiled and then buried in ash, banana leaves and earth for forty days, during which time, they turn from a creamy white colour to dark brown or black. The method relies on the fact that the hydrogen cyanide released by the boiling and fermentation is water-soluble and easily washed out.
The kernels may be ground up to form a thick black gravy called rawon, popular dishes include nasi rawon, beef stew in keluwek paste, and sambal rawon. A stew made with beef or chicken also exists in East Java. The Toraja dish pammarrasan (black spice with fish or meat, also sometimes with vegetables) uses the black keluak powder. In Singapore and Malaysia, the seeds are best known as an essential ingredient in ayam (chicken) or babi (pork) buah keluak, a mainstay of Peranakan cuisine.
The edible portions of the plant are an excellent source of vitamin C and high in iron.
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