"Introduction to Fruits of Asia"
"Asian fruit" was last updated on April 28, 2013
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If there's one thing I really enjoy about Asia, it has to be the fruit! :-)
Cheap and delicious Asian fruits are best purchased at the local markets, where several local sellers are ready to give you a taste.
At home, we're used to apples, oranges and bananas. You might become skeptical when you see an enormous stinky Durian or you wonder why the Rambutans look like sea urchins.
Beneath their ugly skin lies a delicious beauty - I can promise you that ;-)
Now, here are some of the most popular fruits of Asia. There are so many others, but I've decided to just focus on the ones below :-)
When I say "Asian fruit", it doesn't necessarily mean that the fruit originates from Asia. Some of them don't, but they're still widely found in Asia.
Mango is probably a common favorite for locals and travelers. Mangoes are grown globally (Mexico, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Philippines etc), but it's apparently native to the Indian continent.
I've tasted different mangoes, I can really say that the yellow mangoes are the best (with Pakistani mangoes being the most favorable).
They're very juicy, sweet and when you've started to dig your teeth into the mango meat - you don't want to stop!
In Thailand, the mangoes are mostly grown in north Thailand, but they're are sold at every large fruit market in the country. The peak season for mangoes is from April to June.
Asian fruit: Yellow mangoes in the Philippines
On top of regular fresh mango eating, mangoes are used in ice cream and salads.
In Southeast Asia, you often hear about 'mango and sticky rice' and it's a referral to their staple dish.
Another favorite for travelers is papaya.
At first, I didn't like papaya because it didn't taste 'anything'.
I have a sweet tooth, so I expected that it would be more 'mango-sweet-like'. Now, I can eat it regularly.
Papayas are grown in tropical places, but it's originally from Mexico and Central-America. In Thailand, they're grown all year. They contains lots of vitamin A and C, and it's considered very healthy. In Southeast Asia, they use papaya for 'papaya salad' or eat it alone.
A papaya has got orange-yellow flesh that has the consistency of a melon. The seeds are edible, but bitter so I would probably skip eating them.
So, what about Asian bananas?
What characterizes bananas in Asia is their size and taste, sometimes referred to as 'dwarf bananas'.
They're a lot smaller than the usual version we saw in the West, and also sweeter.
These bananas are found everywhere in Asia, and they're handy for day trips or if you just need a snack on a long bus ride.
Jackfruit is my ultimate favorite fruit.
When you dig your teeth into a jackfruit, it's a little crunchy and sweet.
When peeled, it has the appearance of an onion but the taste of a very sweet pear.
Its origin can be traced back to Southeast Asia, but some believe that it originates from Kerala in India.
Our host family in Alleppey Kerala, picked their jackfruit straight from a jackfruit-tree standing outside their house.
Jackfruits are grown everywhere in Southeast Asia, as well as South-America. I always buy jackfruit when I'm backpacking in Asia, or visit the Asian stores here in Oslo when I start craving for them :-)
Asian fruit: Rambutan
Rambutans look like tiny, oval sea urchins, but beneath its skin you'll find a lychee-like fruit, with a sweet white flesh. It's easy to peel a Rambutan with your bare fingers. Sometimes I bite it to crack it open (like slightly biting a peanut), and then I peel it.
This weird-looking fruit is of Southeast Asian origin and it's closely related to lychee and longan.
Longan is also lychee-like and is very sweet and juicy. Longan has a brown, thin shell/skin and it can easily be cracked open just by using your nails. The white flesh surrounds a black seed (which I don't eat). While traveling in Thailand, I would eat Longan almost every day. I bought like a kilo and ate it while I was lying on the beach. A great snack, which I recommend :-)
Longans grown in Thailand are sold to the local markets and fruit stalls, or canned and shipped to Europe, North-America or other places.
What is the smelliest fruit on this planet? It has to be Durian!
If the Durian is ripe, then it's really delicious! Its consistency will be creamy and it will also smell extra bad :P
The smaller the seeds are, the better the taste. Just smelling a Durian will deter people from buying it, but have in mind that a Durian contains lots of vitamins and minerals. Choosing the 'right' Durian which is ripe enough, is a sport.
Place a Durian next to your ear and give it a gentle shake.
If it's too 'young', you will hear a hard sound. If you don't hear anything, it's too ripe and should not be bought. The sound you want to hear is the sound of subtle 'knocks'. The smell should not be overwhelming either, but if it's not ready to be eaten you won't smell that much either.
The dragonfruits found in Southeast Asia are mostly pink with green 'thorns'. A dragonfruit is nicely crunchy and sweet. It's hard to describe the taste, but I would say more like a pear, but also a kiwi. It might taste like kiwi because of the black seeds.
They're enriched with calcium and vitamins (particularly vitamin C), and are originally from South-America but are grown in most parts of Asia.
Asian pear/Japanese pear is one of my favorites. Personally I wouldn't call it a pear because is has the consistency and appearance of an yellow apple.
When Japanese pears are ripe, they're crunchy and sweet. They taste half pear/half apple in my opinion.
Asian pears are originally from Japan, China and Korea, but are found at the markets in Southeast Asia.
Asian fruit: Vu Sua
Asian Star apple is a special fruit!
In Vietnam, this fruit is called 'Vu Sua', translates into 'milk from the breast'.
I've never eaten this fruit, but my cousin who studied and traveled in Vietnam did. He bought some star apples at the market in Da Nang. His Vietnamese friend showed him how to eat it.
First, his friend rolled the fruit gently, to 'roll out the juice' and then peel it.
A star apple has this sweet milky white juice, hence its name ;-)
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