Every holiday should be an adventure, especially when it comes to trying new foods. Thailand has delicious fruits that are incredibly cheap, such as bananas, mangos, watermelon and papaya, but if you want to try something exotic, check out these 7 Thai fruits that are tasty, healthy and unseen in Western shops.
Durian ทุเรียน (thu-rian)
Reputed to be the king of all fruits, this fruit is massive, sometimes weighing in at more than 10kg. It has a very strong smell, which means most people store it outdoors (yes, it really is that bad), but although the pungent smell sometimes turns many Western people off, it tastes creamy and delicious. You either love Durian or hate it, but Durian is one of the most popular fruits in Thailand, so it’s worth trying. Durian is available as a paste, and Durian-derived snacks are popular. It is in season from May to July.
Pomelo ส้มโอ (som-o)
The Pomelo originated in Southeast Asia but has been grown all around the world for centuries. It is the largest citrus fruit and sometimes weighs over 2kg. Pomelo tastes like a sweet, mild grapefruit with little of the grapefruit’s bitterness, and its rind is very thick. Pomelo is typically sold in peeled segments as it is difficult to peel yourself. It is delicious, and Thais also attribute many healing properties to it. The season for Pomelo is August to October.
Rose Apple ชมพู่ (chomphu)
Shaped like a bell and about the same size as a pear, this fruit is crunchy, refreshing and not too sweet, kind of like a cross between the taste of a cucumber and a pear. The rose apple is ubiquitous in Thailand and not expensive to buy. From bright red to pink or sometimes green, Rose Apples are worth trying for yourself since they are hard to describe. The season for Rose Apple is May to July, but they can be found all year long.
Jackfruit ขนุน (khanun)
Even larger than a Durian, seeing a 30kg JackFruit is not unusual. It is the largest fruit to grow on a tree. Jackfruit is made up of hundreds of fused flowers, and you eat the “fleshy petals” surrounding the seed (which is the actual fruit.) It tastes better than it smells, mango/peachy/pearlike. The texture is a little stringy and quite soft when it is overripe. Personally, I don’t like it too much.
Longan ลำไย (lamyai)
Brought into Thailand by Chinese immigrants hundreds of years ago, Longan was first planted in Bangkok and then in the North. The fruit has flourished in the North and become one of Thailand’s most significant export fruits. The most famous species is the pink longan produced in Chiang Mai. Its flesh is pinkish, thick, and sweet, larger than a grape but smaller than a plum. The longan or “dragon eyes” is so named because of the fruit’s resemblance to an eyeball when it is shelled. When you start to eat this fruit, it is hard to stop because they are so delicious. Luckily, a bunch is very cheap to buy.
Mangosteen มังคุค (mongkhut)
Mangosteen is delicious and has a limited season, so if you see them, I suggest you snap them up. The flesh is lovely and juicy, but don’t eat the seed inside each segment, as it is bitter. You’ll need a knife to get in through the purple skin and then segment it like an orange. The fragrant, fleshy fruit is both sweet and tangy.
Rambutan เงาะ (ngo)
In bright spikey red with a greenish tinge, the Rambutan is beautiful. You buy them by the kilo, which is a bit smaller than an apricot. A Rambutan’s taste is sweet and juicy. Breaking open the skin reveals a firm, whitish fruit containing a seed. You can use a knife or your teeth to get in, as the spikes are not sharp in any way.
Be adventurous with your Asian Fruit!
As we conclude our fruity exploration of Thailand, it’s clear that this vibrant country offers a unique and delicious palette of flavours. From the controversial durian to the sweet rapture of mangosteens, each fruit is a testament to Thailand’s rich agricultural heritage. Next time you find yourself wandering through a Thai market, remember these seven fruits and embrace the chance to taste the unseen and the extraordinary. Let every holiday be an adventure, especially when it involves such delightful, healthy, and unusual fruits.
Featured image courtesy of Aidan Jones via Flickr.com