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The Food Game: Fruits of Southeast Asia

by Tara

Yesterday evening, after our squid fishing excursion, we walked home by way of the night market. On display were the heaps and heaps of colorful fresh fruit that we've come to know and expect in Southeast Asia.

Vietnamese Fruit Stand

I realized, as I bought a red water apple for the first time, that we hadn't really done the abundant tropical fruits justice. Though we've been here for over two months now, we haven't even tried most of them!

Cutting a Water Apple (Quả Roi)

So, much to the delight of one of the night market sellers, we bought a hefty bag full of all kinds of colorful fruit. A few of them we'd tried already, but most of them were still complete mysteries to us.

Vietnamese Fruit Sellers

We leave tomorrow, and we don't really want to haul them on our bikes, so this morning, while Tyler runs errands in town (buying us a pair of hammocks and bringing home lunch), I break out my pocket knife.

It's time to try them all!


First up: papaya. It's really, really tender and soft on the outside and I wonder if it's rotten…


But I slice it open revealing creepy black alien egg seeds, and a soft orange flesh that seems perfectly ripe. I never liked papaya before I came here, but this one is delicious!

Cut Papaya

Next up is a strange fruit that looks sort of like an artichoke. The internet reports that it's called a sugar apple, custard apple, or a sweetsop.

Custard Apple

I have no idea what to expect, but slice it in half and give it a go. I slip off the shingled skin and the mealy bits of flesh underneath it, and take a bite, avoiding the slick black seeds.

Cut Custard Apple

And… it is delicious! To me, it tastes sweet and a bit sour, with a flavor similar to those sugar-coated peach jelly rings. Yum!

Next up is this green orb. What in the world is this thing?

Star Apple

Named for it's pretty star pattern of seeds, it's a star apple. It's tasty, sort of like a crunchy, unripe pear. And, like a dandelion stem, it boasts a milky substance that rises to the surface when sliced. Weird!

Cut Star Apple

Dragon fruit comes next. I love it already for its vibrant pink hue and awesome name.

Dragon Fruit

The taste isn't quite as amazing though. To me, it's a bit like a bland kiwi.

Cut Dragon Fruit

Next is the water apple, like the one I first tried last night.

Water Apple Side View

I think it looks funny.

Water Apple

It's crunchy and wet and like a watermelon rind, while being vaguely sweet, and reminiscent of jicama.

Cut Water Apple

I love longans.


They taste sort of like grapes or lychee nuts.


And they feel like eyeballs!


I am so full of fruit right now. This enormous pomelo will just have to wait!


Also not featured here are mangoes, rambutans, stinky, custardy durian, bubblegum flavored jackfruit, mangosteens, pineapple, and countless varieties of finger-sized bananas!

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I LOVE WATER APPLES! Oh how I would love to eat one again. I ate LOTS of them when I was in Costa Rica...but I am certain there are none to be had here in snowy MN. :(
Posted by Amanda on February 9th, 2011 at 3:46 AM
Have you tried the Asian market? Maybe they have some?

Asian Market
Food Market Stores
309 14th Ave SE
St Cloud, MN 56304

Miss you!
Posted by Tara on February 21st, 2011 at 11:56 AM
I will check it out!
Posted by Amanda on February 21st, 2011 at 4:00 PM
Regards to the Dragon fruit, if you ever see the pink/purple flesh variety, give it a go, much nicer taste if you ask me.
Posted by Ben Champion on July 12th, 2011 at 9:42 PM
It wasn't until I began growing my own dragon fruit that I discovered how they get their name. The flower is freaking amazing, with this huge deep throat and a tongue that looks like a dragon breathing fire!! I am not joking! It flowers for just one night. I've tried to find a link to a photo on my blog (without much success) but if I find one I'll post it.
Posted by Naomi on November 4th, 2013 at 6:43 AM
Whoa, Naomi, that sounds amazing! I had no idea that's why they were called dragon fruits. :-)
Posted by Tara on November 4th, 2013 at 9:31 AM
Ok, turns out I'd taken lots of photos but never got around to putting a feature together. so here's some pics:
Posted by Naomi on November 5th, 2013 at 6:24 AM
That's really cool-- thanks for sharing! Those flowers are beautiful!
Posted by Tara on November 5th, 2013 at 10:43 AM