Emping is a slightly bitter yet strangely addictive Indonesian cracker made from the dried flattened seed of a melinjo tree. The raw crackers need to be first deep fried until they become golden brown, puff up, and crispy before they can be enjoyed.
What is Emping?
Emping is an Indonesian cracker made from Gnetum gnemon/melinjo tree seeds. The tree is native to Indonesia. The seeds are enveloped by a fleshy skin that is red when ripe and green when immature. Remove that skin and you will see another layer of dark brown seed skin that is thinner, more brittle, and striped, protecting the cream-colored seed within.
The brownish seeds are then traditionally roasted over hot sand so that the skin comes off. Each seed is hand-pounded using a metal disc until thin and flat. Generally, one seed is one cracker or smaller seeds can be combined into one large cracker. These are then dried in the sun.
The raw crackers need to be first deep fried until they become golden brown, puff up, and crispy before they can be enjoyed. Fried emping crackers are often served as condiments to soto (Indonesian soups), fried rice, and Indonesian-style peanut sauce salad to add crunch texture to the dishes. They can also be eaten as a snack. They are good eaten plain or you can also add seasonings, such as chili powder and caramelized sugar.
What Does Emping Taste Like?
Plain emping has an umami taste with a subtle bitter taste.
Where To Buy
Raw (unfried) emping is usually available in Indonesian traditional markets. Meanwhile, pre-packed, ready-to-eat (fried) emping is also available in most snack stores, supermarkets, and restaurants. If you are outside of Indonesia, try to find emping at Indonesian specialty stores.