I bought some of the strangest fruit I’ve ever seen yesterday. It’s called a rambutan, and looks like something out of the original Star Trek episode “The Trouble with Tribbles”! Very organic and creature-ish looking, right?
I had sampled one several months ago, when a chef gave a Tuesday Talk about native Panamanian fruits and vegetables. I remembered that I liked it, and when I saw a guy with a pickup-load of them for sale, I had to get some.
Here’s a description:
In Panama, this fruit is commonly referred to as ‘Mamón Chino’ (which literally means Chinese sucker). It is sold with the fruit still on the branches, like Mother Nature’s lollipops. It is related to the lychee.
Flavor: Delicious, tangy, alien invasion-y, sweet/sour with a grape-like texture
Season: August, September
How do I eat it? Peel off the red fuzzy exterior, pop it into your mouth and eat/suck around the pit
Reported health benefits: In traditional medicine in Malaysia and Indonesia (the home of the Rambutan) it is used in diabetes and hypertension treatments. Also purported to boost energy, blast parasites and free radicals and has antiseptic properties
Here’s what the inside looks like….
I bit through the outer shell just enough to break through it (it’s fairly thick, but pliable), then peeled it back to expose the fruit on the inside. It’s so odd – the fruit isn’t really attached to the shell at all, and lifts right out. The texture is like a peeled grape, and it sort of tastes like a grape, too – sweet, but not overly so.
I bought a bundle of these (still on the branches) for a whopping $2.50. After pulling them off the stems, I had a large bag full of fruit. These will make great, healthy snacks for TV watching – they’re sweet and satisfying, low-calorie, and they take awhile to peel and eat. Perfect! And if they deliver the health benefits listed above, that’s a win-win, for sure!