Archive for the ‘rambutan’ Category

Rambutan

February 4, 2008

How could you not like a fruit that looks a bit like a deep sea creature on the outside and some sort of eyeball on the inside? The answer is that you can’t, but rambutans — which are actually quite beautiful — have a lot more going for them than their appearance (unlike, say, a kiwano melon).

rambutan 2

Rambutans are related to litchis and longans, so if you’ve had experience with those fruits, this isn’t too different. Rambutans are bigger, with a thicker, slightly rubbery skin. They seem to be becoming more common outside of Chinatowns and Asian markets — I picked some up at Wegman’s the other day.

Once you peel away enough skin (I use a fingernail to break it away in sections), you can cleanly remove the edible part, which is a slightly disconcerting translucent milky white. If you’re lucky, you might find a small sip of juice in the empty shell. The juice, like the fruit, introduces itself with a quick, subtle shade of young coconut and a hint of pear. It’s very mild and not too sweet, but very tasty and refreshing. The texture of the fruit is brilliant — soft and juicy, but firm and chewy; somewhere between a fresh grape and firm gelatin. They yield easily to the teeth, but provide a lovely fun bit of resistance. The flavor is aromatic and fruity, with the aforementioned young coconut and pear flavor mingling with sweet lemon. Nothing is tart about a rambutan, but neither are they very sweet. They strike a nice, subtle balance. For this reason, I don’t think rambutans would work very well in a fruit salad or smoothie, where their delicate flavor might easily be overpowered.

The flesh surrounds a relatively large seed, so despite being about the size of a small, oblong golf ball, there really isn’t a lot to actually eat. Although, according to Wikipedia, the seed is edible. Slightly dubious, I sampled a seed, which was bitter and nutty in a way that did not scream “eat me!” (though it was not disgusting). Wikipedia also says litchi seeds are poisonous, so I was a little wary from that as well.

So, apart from the disappointing not-enoughness of the yummy part, rambutans are good.