I remember well how excited I was the first time I traveled overseas and visited the local supermarket for the first time. There are many kinds of fruits I had only heard or seen in the textbook but never seen in real life. Strawberry, peach, rock melon, these are all new to me!
There are many kinds of fruits that only exist in this part of the world (tropical). I would like to introduce some in blog today.
Here is to the king of tropical fruit, Durian!!
Durian is a spiny fruit native to South East Asia. There are more than 30 spices of durian but only 3-4 are well known in Thailand, Chanee, Monthong and Kanyao (market name). Kanyao is the most expensive and apparently the most difficult to find due to its popularity and high demand in the market.
Durian meats are soft. It also have a very distinct odor which most people find quite hard to take. Personally I think it tastes like a sweet avocado, creamy and very tasty.
In Thailand, eating durian while not too ripe is more popular. I’ve traveled to Singapore and Malaysia and found that most durian in the market are too ripe for my taste. The riper it gets, the more stronger odor become.
Durian is banned on plane cabins, hotels and most public transportation. That’s how strong the smell is. I feel the same for Japanese fermented bean or stinky tofu from Taiwan. For those who doesn’t like it, the smell would be unbearable.
If you don’t like durian as it is, try durian chips! It tastes like regular chips but better and no smell at all.
-Durian chips –
Now that we have the king, next on the list is the queen of tropical fruit, mangosteen!!
Why is it a queen? I had absolutely no idea! But according to Katarocks.com
Legend has it, Queen Victoria offered a reward of 100 pounds sterling to any adventurer who delivered her the fresh fruit. It is extremely difficult to export due to a brief shelf life. Therefore, this fruit is seldom seen in the western world.
Mangosteen is a purple-ish fruit with a very sweet and tangy taste. It is also believed to be native to South East Asia (Indonesia to be particular) but can also find in south India and other tropical areas such as Florida.
If you travel to South East Asia, these 2 are absolutely the must-try.
I had a friend who absolutely won’t have any rambutan because she is “scared” of it.
Rambutan is a hairy fruit of Southeast Asian origin. The word rambutan came from Malay word “Rambut” means hair.
Unpeeled rambutan is red with some green/yellow hair covered. The meat is white and very sweet. Besides eating fresh, Rambutan is also very popular as canned product.
These are also rambutan! Only found in Malaysia and Singapore.
For me it feels very strange that a rambutan fruit is without its signature hair.
Introduction might not be needed for mango as it has been consumed all around the world. Thai mango is yellow-ish and very soft.
In Thailand, young mango is also very popular as fruit. The meat is hard, crispy and not as sweet as the yellow one.
Actually, there are some green mangoes that are very very sour that locals would have them with salt and chili powder (yes, you heard it right, fruit with salt).
Green mango is very rare outside of Thailand.
While in Japan, I sometimes crave for it but I can’t find it anywhere except in Thai festival which only held once a year. Since it’s so hard to find, if you happen to visit Thailand (or some southeast asian countries), I highly recommend that you try.
Star fruit or Carambola, as the name suggested, the shape of this fruit is very distinctive when cutting in cross-section, it looks like a star. This fruit is very special because it is edible by hand without peeling. It’s also popular as juice and preserved.
Young star fruit is sour and often used in cooking especially Vietnamese cuisine.
There are many types of guava but one often found in Thailand is the apple guava.
This fruit is edible with or without peeling. The meat is crispy and not very sweet which make it perfectly friendly for diabetes and for people with weight control.
Guava has tremendous health benefits. According to Smartcooky,
Besides its unique flavour and fragrance, guava has been hailed as one of the super fruits due to the numerous health benefits it offers. It indeed is a powerhouse of nutrients. “This humble fruit is extraordinarily rich in vitamin C, lycopene and antioxidants that are beneficial for skin. Guavas are also rich in manganese which helps the body to absorb other key nutrients from the food that we eat. Guavas contain folate, a mineral which helps promote fertility. The potassium in guavas helps normalise blood pressure levels as well. In fact, a banana and a guava contain almost the same amount of potassium. Since it contains about 80% of water it helps keep your skin hydrated”, says Dr. Manoj K. Ahuja, Sukhda Hospital.
You can find guava in any local supermarkets in Southeast Asia. Juice and smoothie are also very popular.
Another tropical fruit that is well known all around the world. In Thailand, there are many kinds of banana and many ways to consumed it. It can be eaten when ripe but also used in cooking such as curry, deep fried and making desserts.
How many are there exactly?
Thailand has about, well, a lot of banana varieties (we’ve read sources that claim 20, 28, 50 and ‘over a hundred’) – all with a preferred use. As with apples, some are better eaten raw, some stand out when cooking. Sometimes it’s even the flowers you’re after. Visit fruit markets around Koh Samui and you’ll begin to notice that some are fatter than others, and both colour and taste differ, too (source : Kohsamuisunset.com)
The most well-known bananas in Thailand are 1) the typical banana 2) monkey banana 3) cultivated banana (In Japan it’s called banapuru which from from banana+apple).
Banana trees are found anywhere in Thailand. It’s very typical as the backyard plant and considered as “plant for luck” as the name of banana also refer to “easy/smoothed thing up”.
That’s all for today. Stay tuned for part 2.