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It’s, like, a fruit

August 21, 2006

Dragon fruit

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Dragon fruit

So my husband tells me he has a special treat for me tonight. It tells you a lot about him that no, it wasn’t a fancy piece of jewelry, and no, it wasn’t a homemade dessert, and no, thankfully, it wasn’t a swift kick to my butt. It was a piece of fruit. (Pause.) Exactly.

At least it was an incredibly exotic piece of fruit (to me). A dragon fruit, to be precise. It looks like a poor man’s Faberge egg or a prop that went astray from that dinosaur movie, The Land Before Time.

(You just had to see my husband’s face when he pulled out. So excited and expectant. He was so delighted with himself. For my part, I look at him blankly. “What is that?”)

But my excitement quickly grew to match his as he brandished the giant chef’s knife and lobotomized it. Who doesn’t like to see things sliced open to reveal gleaming, seed infested insides?

So, I’ll cut to the chase and describe my experience of eating a dragon fruit. Inside, it’s a white, soft melon-type texture with hundreds of tiny kiwi-like seeds suspended in its heart.

Sorry to disappoint, but frankly, it didn’t really taste like anything — at least the one that our local Whole Foods provided. Kind of like an unripe honeydew. A nothing kind of taste, but still melon, with an earthy aftertaste. The texture was pleasant, though, and you can scoop it out with a spoon.

I let my husband eat most of mine…. So it’s only fair that you read his version of these events. He was the one, after all, who inflicted this food tasting on the family….

My wife and I first saw dragon fruit in the Food Halls at Harrod’s in London. (We get away for five days and we are squeezing 60 million mentions out of it… Either we are that good or we don’t get away enough.) The Food Halls are very neat. Each room is dedicated to meat, fish, produce, sweets or the like. They’re so well done that the ornate frescos, moldings and mosaics on the ceilings and floors correspond with the products being offered. (With the exception of the Krispy Kreme doughnut shop. It doesn’t have a corresponding fresco. But if you get the hankering for the hot glazed you know where to look for the lit sign.) They also bring in more exotic items. In the produce room, we saw a number of unusual offerings, including the dragon fruit.

The dragon fruit is not only good looking, it actually has an interesting history. Dragon fruit are also known by the name pitaya. They are the brightly colored fruit formed by a flowering cactus. Fascinating to me — because I’m that big a dork and am pro-globalization. This new-world fruit has found a home in Southeast Asia. Native to South America, it was imported and now is mainly grown in more tropical settings such as Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan. It also comes in a couple colors. The one we had was a vibrant pink, but they also come in yellow. The leaves and shoots are also a bright green (ours seems to have been not so lucky or lovely). The flesh in ours was white, but it also comes in a bright red.

So now onto what really matters: Taste!

So my thoughts on the flavor… It was somewhere between honeydew and watermelon, without the sweetness of either. The black dots you see in the photos add a crunch, and have the consistency of a sesame seed. It really is closest to eating a kiwi — once again without its sweetness or its acidity. I must admit I want to try it again before I decide if it’s any good or not. Adventure awaits and I hope to see more of them.

Dragon fruit

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7 comments

  1. […] husband cooks A tasty look at food he makes, and I eat « It’s, like, a fruit Fresh pasta! August 22nd,2006 […]


  2. Do you eat the soft inner red inside or just the white inside with the black seeds?


  3. Irene,

    Yes. You eat it white flesh and the seeds. It would otherwise be impossible. My wife’s comparison to a kiwi is likely the best way to think about it.

    The seeds add some crunchy texture, and maybe a very subtle pepper flavor. But, you notice the flesh most and they break up very easily in the mouth. They are very very tiny.

    So just spoon it out like grapefruit.


  4. […] It is also the first place I saw jicama. Jicama, like the dragon fruit I’ve written about before, is a native to South America, but has also found a home in Southeast Asia and in Asian cuisine. My wife describes its flavor merely as “crunchy.” Indeed, that textural adjective seems apt, because there isn’t much to jicama. In my mind, if a potato, a waterchesnut and an apple got together and had a big baby, it would be jicama. […]


  5. […] I love globalization. While I know many people bemoan the state of affairs it has caused around the world, I like to proclaim my love for it. I love it because I’m selfish and a capitalist, but also because of the food. Because of this crazy global economy, I get to discover fun things at my local grocers. Add the adventure of my wife starting My Husband Cooks, and I’ve taken to embracing every single one of these oddities as a chance to eat and write. (e.g. dragon fruit.) […]


  6. I had my first taste of this fruit in Singapore not to long ago and found it sold as a fresh juice in Hong Kong. I look forward to having it again each time I go. I don’t know why actually, it is somewhat vaguely sweet but I like best the kiwi fruit-like texture (thanks to the the seeds) more than anything. I’ve not had the red fleshed version yet, but I’m glad you wrote this article to inform people about it.


  7. We just made an Asian ceviche of local Gulf of Mexico flounder marinated in lime juice, cloudy sake pureed w/ lychee, and coconut vinegar, but the key to the dish was the dragonfruit. We sliced thin triangilar piecess, by first cutting the fruit in 1/6 or 1/8 wedges. Adding slivers of white peach, red onion and Thai garlic to the dragon fruit, when an order comes up we toss the dragonfruit mixture with the marinated ceviche for a refreshing untraditional approach.

    I love the crispness of dragonfruit, even though it is spoonable, it has a little crunch. It’s not too sweet and its flavor has melon, banana, and a hard to describe buttery cucumber neutrality. It’s not acidic, and it makes a good showing paired with other flavors because it keeps its texture and its flavor, which is mild, maintains well.

    For instance, it would add an element of exotica to a sesame chicken salad without taking over the dish.

    This is a terrific website: funny, droll, and adventurous. Keep up the good work!



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