Summer heralds the arrival of some of our favorite fruit: juicy peaches, fresh berries, crisp and cool watermelon. But have you thought about adding something new to your poolside fruit salad? You might not find these delicacies in the produce section at the Wal-Mart or Costco, but they’re well worth the hunt at your local Asian grocery store. Whether you prefer sweet fruit like rambutans or the more mild flavors of dragonfruit, there’s plenty of new foods here that make for some tasty and healthy summer snacks.
1. Lanzone/ Langsat
From the outside, these clusters of egg-shaped beige fruit might not look very appealing, but break through that hard rind and you’ll find segments of sweet, soft fruit inside. With a light, citrus-like taste and a consistency similar to grape, it’s easy to run through a whole bag without even noticing. You might have some sticky fingers after, though—the peel contains naturally-occuring latex.
Despite its name, this fruit doesn’t have much in common with mangoes, but it’s just as delicious. To enjoy a mangosteen, crack open the hard purple rind to reveal soft white fruit that’s a perfect blend of sweet and sour. Watch out for the seeds!
“Rambutan” comes from a Malay word meaning “hairy,” and we have to admit, it does look just like a furry lychee, with light, sweet flesh below all of those spines. It might look intimidating from the outside, but don’t worry, the spikes are soft and the peel is easy to remove.
Another fruit with more than meets the eye, beneath the hard outer shell is soft white fruit. They’re small but similar to lychees, with a milder, sweeter flavor, and are also known as dragon’s eye. Not the most appetizing nickname, but the taste is more than enough to make up for it.
Grown on cactus-like crawling plants, dragonfruit come in an array of shapes, colors and flavors. There’s the ultra-sweet fuschia colored fruit, one with slightly milder white flesh and a delicate, smaller variety with bumpy yellow skin. Whichever one you pick, slice open the rind to reveal soft, pulpy flesh filled with crunchy black seeds, a refreshing treat on a hot day.
6. Wax Apples
Like your run-of-the-mill grocery store apples, wax apples come in a variety of colors, but that’s about where the similarities end. Ranging from snow-white to glossy pink in color, wax apples are shaped more like pears, and the texture is soft and spongy rather than dense. Their sensitivity to temperature makes them hard to sell, but you might get lucky at your local farmer’s market.
It might take some chopping to get to the pale yellow kernels of fruit inside the jackfruit’s spiky rind, but once you do, you’ll find a subtle flavor that tastes almost like banana. It also makes a great pulled pork substitute for vegans or vegetarians craving some barbecue.
8. Xinjiang Fragrant Pears
These pears are close to the large, globular Korean pears you’ll find at H-Mart, but they’re smaller, sweeter and less dense. And, as the name implies, they have an incredible floral scent that will make your mouth water.
“Chinese dates” aren’t quite the same as the medjool ones from Trader Joes, but they pack a similar punch of flavor and sweetness. Beneath a thin, crispy skin, jujubes have a soft and fibrous interior with a nutty flavor. They’re also touted as having a number of health benefits, so if miracle foods are your thing you might want to give these a try.
Plenty of viral videos that have made the rounds in the past few years, showing millions of viewers why trying durian may or may not be for them. But should you overcome the thick rind and strong odor (which has been described as gasoline mixed with garbage—don’t say we didn’t warn you), the fruit has a sweet, custard-like consistency and taste.