*Thailand is known for a heaven on earth for tropical fruit lovers. All kinds of fruits blossom all year round. Each fruit also has many species which look and taste different.
If you haven’t read part 1 where I introduced durian, mangosteen, rambutan, mango, guava and banana, here is the link to my previous blog.
Continuing today with the first one on our list, papaya!
Surprisingly, papaya did not originate in South East Asia but in Central America (this information is new to me lol).
It was introduced in Thailand about 200 years ago and has since gained the popularity because the plant is so easy to grow (my parents have papaya tree in their backyard), high productivity and of course its good taste. These days, it’s found in most tropical countries including Hawaii, India, parts of Australia etc.
Thai papaya is quite large comparing to its brother from Hawaii. This particular one in the photo weight about 1-2 kg. You can’t finish the whole papaya on your own that’s for sure.
Papaya is consumed both ripe and unripe. Ripe papaya is edible as it is, in form of juice or smoothie and dessert. Unripe papaya is most well known as it’s the main ingredients for the famous Papaya salad or “Somtam”.
Alongside guava, papaya is also very friendly for diabetes and good for people who is on a diet. It has huge health benefits such as reducing heart disease, diabetes and cancer. If you are interested, please read more on medicalnewstoday.com.
Another tropical fruit originated in Central America but highly popular in Thailand. It’s very easy to eat, just cut a fruit in half and eat by spoon.
I’m quite interested why this fruit is called dragon fruit so I did some research. Apparently, dragon fruit is the name familiar in Asian countries. Perhaps because the fruit resembles a dragon head? It is also known as Pitaya (from Latin and Spanish) in other countries.
Dragon fruit is low in calories and has several health benifits. According to Food Facts;
Dragon fruit is low in calories yet offers numerous nutrients, including vitamin C, B vitamins, phosphorus, protein, calcium, fiber, captin, and antioxidants. It’s proven to lower blood sugar levels as well as blood pressure, strengthen bones and teeth, promote healthy blood and tissue formation, strengthen the immune system, heal bruises and wounds faster and prevent respiratory problems.
To be honest with you, besides durian, I’ve never heard of any other fruits that is rich in calories. If you are diabetics, you might need to watch out sugar level but besides that there is nothing else you should worry about.
Coconut is a member of palm family. Its origin is still subject to debate but believed to be from the Indian-Indonesian region (source).
As I’m writing this blog, I imagine myself having coconut juice on the white sand beach somewhere exotic. It’s really is the best thing in the whole world.
Many people confuse the different between coconut juice (sometimes called coconut water) and coconut milk. Don’t mix it up. These 2 are totally different things.
Coconut juice referred to the liquid in the cavity of coconut fruit (typically young one). Once you crack it open, this liquid pour out. Coconut juice is very low in calories. Some say it’s better than drinking water.
Coconut milk is on the other hand referred to a liquid that come from grated meat of a brown coconut. It’s rich in calories but good for health (why? check it out in Eating Well) Mostly coconut milk is used in cooking especially curry. You can’t cook Thai curry without coconut milk.
Back to South East Asian native, longan! Longan fruit is brown-ish, small, round and hard. The shell is very thin which make it very easy to crack open.
Longan meat is white and very sweet. I can be eaten both fresh and dried. Dried longan is used in Chinese medicine for relaxing purpose. Besides that, it’s also very popular as a canned product, same as rambutan.
Although longan is sweet and delicious, as a child I was always told by my parents not to eat too much in one day as it’s very high sugar and can cause hot-in or mouth ulcers which is not pleasant at all.
Moderate amount of daily consumption should be around 300 g. (equal to one bowl of rice).
No introduction in needed for pineapple. In Thailand, there are so many kinds of pineapple, some size of a human palm, some as big as papaya. It is edible fresh, dried, as juice or smoothie or used in cooking (again, curry!)
There are more than 10 kinds of orange (or “Som” in Thai) that I know of. The most common type isn’t quite “orange” in color which most people are familiar with but rather yellow and green-ish. Its name in Thai can be translated as “sweet green orange”.
Fresh squeezed orange juice in the morning is the best thing ever. You need to try it.
Just some tips, in Thailand mostly fruit are sell in kilo not per unit. When you go to supermarket, look for a bag. Put whatever you need in that bag (one bag one kind of fruit of course) and weight before bringing it to the cashier.
How many of these tropical fruits have you tried? Which one do you like? Please share with us!
I have a few others on my list which I want to introduce in part 3. Unfortunately some fruits are not in season right now which make it quite hard to find in mid-September. Once I have more materials, I will write more.
Until then, stay tuned!