The world abounds with hundreds of varieties of incredible fruit. Colorful tropical fruits include some of the most remarkable species and are a popular attraction for many visitors to Asia. Vietnam is proud to be a ‘paradise of fruit,’ and you can witness fabulous displays in the many floating markets, vibrant fruit stalls, and crowded markets across the country. So come on a journey with Christina’s to explore some of the unique and interesting tropical fruits which you can find throughout Vietnam.
Jackfruit – Mit
Outside: Jackfruit is the biggest fruit in the world. It has lumpy green peel and comes in many different sizes. Typically a ripe jackfruit weighs from 2 to 3 kg. Farmers commonly use their finger to press around a jackfruit to figure out if it’s soft enough to harvest.
Inside: Jackfruit is bright yellow inside. The pieces of fruit are braided together by thin threads, and each one contains a seed of around two centimeters in diameter.
How to eat: First cut the jackfruit horizontally into two halves, then continue to slice each piece vertically. Use your hands to separate each segment from the jackfruit, then remove the seed and slowly enjoy the succulent flesh. Check out the video to understand more about how to handle this beautiful fruit.
Taste & scent: Jackfruit has a powerful scent which you can smell from miles away and a memorable taste and texture – a little bit crunchy, slightly chewy, and as sweet as candy.
Benefit: It’s hard to believe how good for you Jackfruit really is. The fruit contains a massive amount of vitamin C as well as nutrients that help prevent cancer and aging of internal organs. It also helps protect your digestive tract, your eyes, your bones, and your skin.
- Jackfruit is the national fruit of Bangladesh.
- Apply oil into your knife before cutting jackfruit because its latex is super sticky.
- Don’t throw away the seeds, as you can make them into a yummy, creamy dish if you boil them for 10 minutes.
Dragon fruit (a.k.a pitaya) – Thanh long
Outside: Dragonfruit has a dark pink shell with short green tentacles growing from fruit’s body. The fruits range in diameter from 7 to 10cm. Do you know why they are called dragon fruit? It’s because they look like a dragon head. It’s an interesting name, right?
Inside: Dragon fruit is white inside with many tiny black seeds.
How to eat: Cut the fruit vertically into two halves. Continue to cut the two pieces to get eight smaller portions which you can comfortably hold in your hand. Gradually remove the peel as you eat each piece or just remove it all at once and enjoy.
Taste and scent: Succulent, with a slightly sour taste, but a little sweet at the same time.
Benefit: These fun-looking fruits contain around 60 calories each, are rich in vitamin C, B1, B2, and B3, and contain minerals such as iron, calcium, and phosphorus. All those nutrients are the reason dragonfruit can protect you from heart problems, aging skin, and acne. And it’s also super good for your digestion. Wow! Some people believe that it’s even better than cheerios 🙂 But much cheaper.
Fun fact: You have to spit out every single seed when eating dragon fruit! No, just kidding, you don’t have to do that at all. They’re completely safe so just enjoy them slowly, the same way you would any other “no-seed” fruit.
Mangosteen – Mang cut
Outside: Mangosteens have a perfectly round shape. They are dark purple with a diameter of around 4-5cm, and their green stem looks just like blooming flower petals. The purple peel is quite hard.
Inside: The flawless milky white meat fits snugly into the outside peel and is divided into 4 or 5 pieces. The mangosteen’s appearance inside will blow your mind.
Taste & scent: You can smell the mild aroma of mangosteen as you bring it close to your nose. The texture is a bit soft and chewy. As soon as you take your first bite, the sweetness will overwhelm your mouth. A slightly sour flavor remains on the tip of the tongue even after you swallow it.
How to eat: Hold the mangosteen between your palms and squeeze your hands together to crush open the purple shell, or use a knife to slice it open if you prefer.
Benefit: Mangosteen contains special nutrients that can purify your body and relieve stress, which is the reason mangosteens are also known as the ‘nemesis’ of durian – a fruit that can produce a lot of heat in your body. In Thailand, people call durians and mangosteens ‘spouses.’ If you eat too much durian and your body gets hot inside, mangosteens will help reduce the heat immediately. Mangosteens also help prevent cancer, have anti-aging properties, and increase immunity.
- A mangosteen tree can live up to 90 years.
- It’s one of the most expensive fruits in the world.
- Mangosteens contain high levels of sugar, so they are not recommended for people who are overweight.
Rambutan – Chom chom
Outside: Rambutan has a pretty odd appearance, with bright red or half yellow, half red color. It’s round like a chicken egg but has lots of green “feathers” around the outside. Many people humorously refer to rambutans as “hairy balls.”
Inside: Rambutans are translucent inside, with a fruity taste and crunchy texture. Some rambutans are slightly sour as well. Believe me; the sweet and sour taste is so harmonious, you will never forget what your mouth feels like after eating this popular tropical fruit.
How to eat: You need to peel it of course. The skin is easy to peel off, either with your fingers or with a knife. Just be careful not to swallow the pit as it’s not edible.
Benefit: Like many of the other tropical fruits we’ve mentioned today, rambutans also provide us with a multitude of health benefits such as skin care, hair care, cancer prevention, and a boost in energy.
People usually pick the completely red fruit over the others because they believe they are the ripest. But in contrast to many other fruits, you should pick the orange ones with green hair instead. Those are the ones which are really sweet and much easier to separate from the seeds inside.
Durian – Sau rieng
Outside: Durians are referred to as “The king of fruit,” probably because of their fierce look and the aroma that, according to many Westerners, is the most terrible smell in the world. Durian has a tough, thorny crust and the fruit sellers usually have to wear gloves when opening them. Otherwise, they can stab their hands and make them bleed. A ripe durian usually weighs between 1-2kg.
Inside: A durian consists of several segments separated into different compartments. The fruit’s large seeds are encased by the edible, eye-catching, bright yellow flesh.
How to eat: You have to use a large knife or scissors to open a durian. You’ll never know how many huge pieces of durian meat you’ll find under that thorny shell until you continue to cut it into smaller parts and look for yourself.
Taste & scent: Durian has a very unique and characteristic scent. There are some Vietnamese and Asian people who cannot bear the odor, so it’s no wonder Westerners think that the smell is terrible. In some countries, it’s forbidden to carry durian on public transport or take them into a hotel. Nevertheless, if you are a fruit-aholic, you will enjoy this unusual fruit a lot because nothing compares to its incredible, creamy, sweet flavor.
Durian is also sometimes banned in underground subways because some people can not bear the smell!
Benefit: Each kind of fruit has different health boosting properties and durian is no exception. Here are some of the benefits you can get from “The King.” The fruit can lower blood pressure, have anti-aging components, rectify sexual dysfunction, and can improve cardiovascular and bone health.
The only real danger in eating durians is the fat content. It has about three times more fat than most other fruits, with the exception of avocado. They are healthy fats, but for those people battling weight gain and obesity, other sources should be sought for these health benefits instead.
- In ancient times, Vietnamese parents would frighten their naughty children by asking them to knee on durian peel. Sometimes it was more than a threat, and the kids actually had to do it.
- Durian is also sometimes banned in underground subways because some people can not bear the smell!
Name of place: Hoi An Market or most other markets throughout Vietnam
Opening hours: Generally from 6:00 AM till 4:00 PM
Cost: Prices are seasonal, but you would usually expect to pay around:
- Jackfruit: 40.000VNĐ/kg
- Dragon fruit: 30.000VNĐ/kg
- Rambutan: 50.000VNĐ/kg
- Mangosteen: 80.000VNĐ/kg
- Durian: 80.000VNĐ/kg
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