Yes, you eat the skin like a grape.
Text and images by Gregory Leow @ Makansutra.
According to old wives’ tales, the body accumulates a lot of pig hair from all the pig skin Chinese people love to eat and that the yang mei berries are the perfect fruit for flushing out all of it.
What’s that? And what are these strange berries you wonder?
It looks like a berry with a blackish reddish colour and it looks highly unappetising with strange-looking cauliflower-floret dimples all over.
It’s not a shell and it’s something you bite into. It feels like biting into a really firm and fibrous cherry but with its delicious sweet and sour-ish tastes, it tastes remarkably like a cranberry? Or a raspberry? Perhaps even a strawberry?
Whatever it is, its taste is definitely unique and it’s not cheap.
This is (one of?) the packages it comes in here in Singapore.
Expect to pay about $7.00 for about half a kilo and look for the name of “Arbutus” or ask round for “yang mei” as that’s what they are known here.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find any in a supermarket, but hit the local wet markets and you might just be able to find a fruit seller who supplies them.
Yang Mei has many names: Asian strawberry, waxberry, yumberry, yamamomo, red bayberry and its scientific name, Myrica rubra and if you manage to get your hands on some in Singapore, you’re very lucky because the season only lasts one or two months. (June and July usually)
Native to China but also grown in the Philippines, Korea, Japan and Nepal, there is even a city in Northwest Taiwan named after the fruit because the Chinese immigrant settlers found a lot of yang mei trees growing.
There are a whole range of products that are made out of the berries like ice creams, juices to pies, and wine, but it’d be hard to find them here in Singapore.
Proponents of the fruit will also claim that it is high in antioxidants, vitamin C and is even anti-viral and anti-cancer and of course, it’ll get rid of the ‘hair’ in your body, so munch away.