Truth to tell, we did not pay much attention to Ambarella, a relative of the siniguelas which produces big clusters of fruits. The fruits are also bigger than those of the siniguelas.
As one who has been collecting exotic fruit trees with desirable eating quality, the Ambarella did not appeal much to us because there are better-tasting fruits.
Then at our recent visit to Taiwan where we observed several leisure farms, we saw a lot of the fruit tree in the Fairy Lake Leisure Farm in Tainan, a 52-hectare orchard of longan, Arabica coffee and oranges.
When we asked how come they were planting the Ambarella trees, we were told that they use that for preparing various dishes, including salads.
And then we remembered somebody telling us that our friend Ely Jocson, a hobbyist cook who loves to prepare delicious concoctions for friends. We called him up and asked him what he is using the Ambarella fruits for.
He said that the mature firm fruits are super for cooking fish “pinangat” together with other spices. For instance, his favorite pinangat is the big tilapia. He cooks his pinangat with a few Ambarella fruits together with three kinds of ginger, namely the langkawas, luyang dilaw (turmeric) and the ordinary ginger. He also throws in a few kamias fruits and a few tender leaves of the libas tree, another relative of Ambarella which is considered a native in the Philippines.
In cooking his pinangat, he slices off the flesh of the Ambarella from the big seed. However, he also puts in the seed with fish he is cooking, removing the same when he serves his dish. Cooking is done until there is little broth left. He swears that his recipe is very yummy.
And then Ely claims that the Ambarella fruits are simply great for salads. His favorite, good for four diners, uses eight pieces of Ambarella fruits. With them he adds slices of Indian mango, sliced green finger pepper that is sweet (not hot), and two pieces of white onion. The eight pieces of Ambarella fruits make up 50 percent of the salad. To the main ingredients, Ely adds little amount of sugar just to add a trace of sweetness, patis to taste, and lime juice. The key lime, which is very juicy, is perfect for his salad. Just one or two pieces could be squeezed over the mixture.
EASY TO GROW– By the way, the Ambarella is very easy to grow. It does not even require any special care, and fruiting is virtually throughout the year. In one tree, there may be clusters of maturing fruits. Then there are developing ones, also followed by emerging flowers.
The “seed” of the Ambarella is just like the “stone” of the siniguelas and we have not seen any seed or stone germinating. What we have observed is that young plants come out in the ground not far from the base of the tree. That’s what we used to gather for propagating. But then we did not bother to grow more simply because we didn’t realize that Ambarella is good for cooking pinangat and for making fruit salads.