Jabok – Strange nuts with a story


Jabok nuts

Here is a photo of some nice-looking nuts.  They are not bad, very similar to almond slivers, but sometimes difficult to slide the thin shell off.  Of course there’s a story behind these nuts. I’m not sure of the English name for these, and only have a possible Thai name: จำบก [jambok] or จบก [jabok]. The nuts are not too common, but you will occasionally see a street or beach vendor hawking a bag of them.  I doubt you would be able to find them at any supermarkets in Bangkok.

Anyway, the story goes like this.  Apparently the nuts come in a very hard shell or may just be the seeds of a very hard fruit.  Whatever it is, the casing is so hard that it would be much too tedious to get to the tiny edible inside by hand. So, in the olden days they just let nature take its course.  To be very blunt, cows and buffalos would eat the whole fruit, then poop it out.  Throughout the process of digestion and sitting in the dung some of the casing would get dissolved.  Then, while weathering the elements, most of the gross stuff would get washed away.  In the end wandering villagers would find the unshelled nuts scattered around the ground where they were easy to collect and snack on (after washing, I hope).

Fortunately the modern day tale is a bit more stomach friendly.  Supposedly the shells are worked off by some sort of machine since the quantities you see the vendors selling would not be feasible with the rustic method.  Since I do enjoy snacking on these, let me hope that is true.

My information here is just ‘through the grapevine,’ so if anyone can give the real Thai or English name, or any corrections, please leave a comment below!

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