Cat’s Eye Fruit (Mata Kuching)

Another of Borneo’s unique tropical fruit, the Mata Kuching (Cat’s Eye Fruit) is a cousin of the Longan (Dragon Eye Fruit).

Mata Kuching – Cat’s Eye Fruit

Yellow Mata Kuching Cats Eye Fruit

On the day we went to the market in Serian, we found this fruit which we had never seen before. It was round, about the diameter of a dime, and covered in tough, bumpy, leathery, yellow skin. We asked the vendor what it was, and she said “mata kuching”.

“Is it good?” we asked. Oh, yes, she replied. She let us peel open a few to taste. The fragrance and taste reminded me exactly of longan (dragon eye fruit). I thought to myself, why not give it a shot? So we came home with a kilogram of these fruit.


The Eye of the Cat

In the Bahasa Malaysia language, “mata” means “eyes” and “kuching” means “cat”. The fruit is called Cat’s Eyes because when you peel off the skin and expose the dark seed under the flesh, it looks like a cat’s eye.

Peeled Mata Kuching

Peeled Mata Kuching Cats Eye Fruit

Mata Kuching trees grow prolifically here in Sarawak and Sabah on Borneo. One of the explanations for how our city of Kuching got its name is that the city started along the banks of the river where many of these mata kuching trees were growing.

According to International Society for Horticultural Science, the mata kuching is actually a close relative of the longan (hence the similar smell and taste). There are 3 varieties of mata kuching fruit which have “warty” skins and a 4th variety which is smooth and most closely resembles the longan.

The yellow-skinned variety has skin which feels very bumpy on the outside, almost like a lychee. This fruit with a large seed pit and very little flesh. When I found out how little meat was on the “bone” of the fruit, I was put off and a little upset at paying so much for so little edible meat. I ended up tossing the rest.

A Second Eye

Our friend Mike recently gave us some mata kuching which he brought back from Sibu, a town about 6 hour’s drive away. These fruit were the same size, but greener in color, and less bumpy.

Mata Kuching from Sibu

cats eye fruit

They also had considerably more meat on them, and were sweeter than the Serian variety.

Peeled Mata Kuching from Sibu

cats eye fruit peeled

These we finished eating in one sitting! ;-)

Aloha, Nate

This post was entered into the Weekend Herb Blogging roundup, hosted this week by Mele Cotte and organized by Haalo of Cook Almost Anything.

15 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Sharlene T. says:

    I think you should make something with this and ship it to me so I can give it a review! LOL Totally unfamiliar with this — what is the taste like? Astringent like a lychee? Sweet like a cherry? Help!

  2. Tuty says:

    I've heard of mata kuching but never seen them. Thanks for sharing the photographs.

  3. Sharlene T. says:

    Run right back to the Foodies Joust and vote for me in the tie-breaker. I'm the Solar Cooked Coconut Mahi Mahi. Please.

    Here: http://www.leftoverqueen.com/forum/index.php/topic,1591.0.html

    My most humble thank you!

  4. Fruit says:

    Interesting. I thought cat's eye and dragon's eye fruit were the same. Not so! I tried the dragon's eye, or longan and thought it was sooo interesting and boozy. I just got some rambutans this week, but they are a little beat up – not nearly as pretty as yours. I need to get myself to Malaysia!

  5. Food Gal says:

    Wow, the diameter of a dime? Those are tiny! And yes, a lot of work to peel for something so little. It kind of reminds me of peeling crawfish. My husband gladly does the chore. Me? I think it's too much work for so little to eat in the end. Hah.

  6. Irene aka Sweet Surrender says:

    Not to forget, this is one very "heaty" fruit. ;)

    Irene
    (http://sweetsurrender.99.com.my)

  7. Nate @ House of Annie says:

    @Sharlene – They taste exactly like longan, so sweeter than lychee. I don't think these fruit will travel well, so you'll have to come here and taste it!

    @Tuty – you're welcome!

    @Fruit – they're kinda the same. Yes, you need to come to Borneo!

    @Carolyn – I know what you mean about crawfish. They're good but not really worth the work.

    @Irene – yeah, didn't eat too much of it!

  8. wendyywy says:

    Oh yes!!! This is the true local variety of mata kuching that belongs to the longan family.
    I've learnt from my pomiculture lecturer that there are 3 types of Sarawak mata kuching, and the only variety that I can remember is the Isau. And I do remember that all looks thorny, and Isau is the best variety (flesh and taste).

    I forgotten about the other 2 variety…

  9. email2me says:

    My fav fruit! I can hog down a whole bunch in front of TV. After that big big sweat … going to sleep in the toilet … lol …. you know what happen when you had too much XD

  10. Blessed Homemaker says:

    My dad loves this fruit but unfortunately, it's so difficult to find them here in Singapore.

  11. Chris says:

    mata kuching – totally new to me. exciting! Thanks for introducing it to me and participating in WHB. Round up tomorrow (Monday).

  12. tigerfish says:

    Now I know why they describe someone with big eyes as Mata Kuching! Ha!

  13. Wee Yin Chuun says:

    I have the seeds of mata kucing. My email is yinchuun@yahoo.com

  14. Jacob says:

    Nice! Really happy to be introduced to a totally new fruit – mata kuching!

    Few questions -
    1. Is Mata kiting available in West Malaysia?
    2. Is it grown commercially, and if yes is the cultivation viable?

    Thanks.

    • Nate says:

      Jacob,

      Welcome, and thanks for the comment and questions

      1. I don’t know if it is available in West Malaysia. Mata Kuching is a cousin of longan that is mostly found in Sarawak.

      2. You should call the Sarawak state FAMA (Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority) office to ask if it is grown commercially. I assume it is, since you see a lot of mata kuching available in the local markets when it is in season.

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My Photo Annie is mistress of the kitchen while Nate is the master of the grill and smoker. We cook the homestyle Asian and Hawaiian foods of our younger days while also exploring the wider worlds of Western foods.

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