Emping Belinjo or Melinjo are small crisp crackers with a bitter edge. Made from the fruit of a Belinjo/Melinjo (gnetum gnemon) tree, the ripe red fruit are boiled then pounded and dried into flat little disks that puff up a bit when fried for just a few seconds. The whole time we lived in Indonesia, we constantly enjoyed this crisp treat, often with a chicken or oxtail soup. Mrs. MM was far more keen on these crackers, while I tended towards the more typical kropek or krupuk shrimp crackers. For some reason, I was under the mistaken impression that the crackers were made from aleurites moluccana or candle nuts (so named because they are sometimes used to make candles)…
So when reading up on gnetum gnemon in reference books (The Encyclopedia of Asian Food and Cooking) and the internet, my most “aha!” moment came when I realized that these crackers, from a Belinjo (in Bahasa Indonesian) fruit/tree, are exactly the same tree known to many Filipinos as bago, and which I just recently featured in this post!
I think we bought this package of emping belinjo from the Indonesian food stall at Megamall a few weeks ago, and we recently fried them up to enjoy with a soto ayam, recipe here, or along with a nasi goreng, or Indonesian fried rice, here. It also pairs well with a fatty but delicious bowl of sop buntot or oxtail soup!