Posted by: Anna | July 29, 2011

Adventures in Fruit

The fruit in Southeast Asia seems like it might have come from an imaginative science fiction writer. Forget apples, oranges and pears. Bananas come in multitudes of sizes and colors and flavors. I know this might seem like a silly topic, but I have really enjoyed the crazy variety of strange and exotic fruit in Southeast Asia. We have tried all that we have seen (except the Durian – just can’t get over the smell..more on that later). I never imagined there would be so many. I have eaten the fruit fresh, in Thai salads, and in so many fresh squeezed glasses of juice I can’t remember. Here’s a primer on the most common types —

I made lychee martinis for a dinner party once, and felt like I was serving something *very* exotic. Yep, that pretty much sums up my previous lychee experience. I was pretty much thrilled to find fresh lychees (I've only ever seen canned in the USA) everywhere in Asia. Delicious sweet white fruit inside, very juicy.

This is called a wood apple, and I think it makes sense. It's sort of looks like an apple made of wood, and the inside is very hard, like an unripe pear, and woody, but still tastes like an apple. Not my favorite of the tropical fruits, but tasty nonetheless.

Snake fruit. Tommy introduced me to this one after he ate it at Osman's in Borneo. The skin looks and feels just like a snake skin, and it peels off very hard and papery. I can't say the inside was much of a delight to me, but Tommy really liked it.

The infamous durian. Smells like stinky feet a mile away, but beloved in Asia. I don't know - my instincts tell me to stay far, far away. I have to admit I never tried it.

Jackfruit. This one often fooled us ignorant Americans, suspecting it was durian (looks similar, don't you think?). Jackfruit are enormous, like spiny watermelons.

Dragonfruit. I had a few dragonfruit shakes. For something as bold looking as dragonfruit, I was disappointed that it didn't have more flavor. It was typically pretty bland.

Rambutan. Wild in appearance. The peel has the consistency of a thick orange peel, and underneath it reveals a really wonderful sweet fruit. This one is great for snacking!

I actually bought shower gel with crushed mangosteen in it. They have a wonderful scent, heavily sweet. This is another great one for snacking.

Longan. Similar to a lychee in taste and used in many Asian desserts. Pretty good, but not as pretty as lychee in spiky pink skin.

The guy at the fruit stand called this wawa. It is rather like a wood apple, very hard and crunchy. We often saw people eating this one with chili salt or chili sugar.

Sea coconut and fresh coconuts. Sea coconuts grow on palm trees and are often made into drinks or medicines (for cough).

Okay, so not exotic. But the pineapples in Asia have been more delicious than any I've had in the rest of my life. This is how they grow - I never thought about it before.

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Responses

  1. They serve lychee on the all you can eat buffet at Japan House (I think that’s the name) in Plano – right across from Collin Creek Mall on Plano Parkway. They had some other “exotic” fruits, but I can’t remember which ones – I’ll just have to go back and see (much cheaper than a trip to Southeast Asia!


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