One of the best things about having foodie friends, is that they enjoy sharing new foods, unusual foods, and other foodie finds. I love it when a foodie friend hands me a bottle of something and says, “you gotta try this,” or returns from a trip with a culinary souvenir for me to try (some great ones we’ve received include olive oils, salts, spice blends, truffled mushroom spread, and barbecue sauces).
We recently had friends over for dinner, and they showed up bearing a great bottle of wine, a really delicious queso with chorizo, and several different kinds of asian fruits that they had picked up in Chinatown. The fruits were all ones that I had seen before, but never tried, and I was looking forward to sampling them.
One of the fruits was a Korean melon:
These are bright yellow, petite (about 6″ long) oval melons. They have a large seed cavity in the center and a juicy, firm white flesh. The flavor was reminiscent of honeydew with lemon. Unlike most melons, Korean melons stay firm when cooked. Buyers are advised to look for fruit that has a sweet fragrance, feels heavy for its size, and yields slightly to pressure. These Korean melons were delicious in fruit salad, and I will definitely be on the lookout for them.
I was also introduced to Yali pears, a variety of Asian pear:
The Yali pears had a pale, yellow skin with a crisp white interior. I learned that the pears are ripened after picking because if left on the tree, they become mealy. As the pear ripens, its starches convert to sugar, making for sweet, juicy fruits. I loved the crisp texture of the pears, and their delicate flavor.
The third fruit they introduced me to, and the one that really knocked my socks off, was rambutan:
These were definitely the most unusual-looking of the lot. The name of the fruit comes from the Malaysian/Indonesian word rambutan, which means hairy. My friend showed me how to slice the outer covering open horizontally and peel half back to reveal the fruit inside. He told us that in Singapore, where he grew up, the fruits are a favorite of flying foxes. The fruit is white and translucent, with a pit in the middle about the size of a dime. You can slice the flesh off the pit, or just pop it in your mouth and work around the pit, much like you would with a cherry. The flavor is sweet and floral, reminiscent of lychees. These were not only fun to eat, but were delicious, and I was wowed by them.
We had a fun evening with friends, and I really enjoyed trying these fruits. I’m looking forward to a trip to the Korean grocer or Chinatown to buy some more. Meanwhile, I am going to be on the lookout for something out of the ordinary at the farmers market to surprise them with.