Thursday, February 24, 2011


Rambutan is an amazing fruit from Southeast Asia which I only recently discovered when I started to eat and enjoy Thai food. It is red or yellow (I've only seen red), covered in what looks like Muppet hair, but is pure heavenly delight in taste. The name is derived from the Malay word "rambut" which means "hairs." We were recently in Chinatown in San Francisco and I found some for sale in a produce shop. 
I purchased three of them, not quite sure what I was getting into. Judy and I sat down in a gelato shop to share some chocolate gelato and I pulled out one of the rambutans and started to peel it. The outer "hair" is quite stiff 
and the outer skin is stiffer than I would have imagined. It comes off much like an eggshell, in chunks, 
and reveals a dull white membrane. 
Inside the membrane is the gel-like translucent fruit 
which contains an almond-like seed. 
A bite into the fruit produces an explosion of wonderful sweetness, 
followed a little later by a more subtle citrusy taste. At that point I wished I'd purchased more than I had. Apparently rambutans do not travel well, so they are rarely found outside of the areas where they are grown. I'd previously purchased a can of rambutan in syrup 
and was saving it with the hope that I could find some fresh rambutan and compare the two. Shortly after we got home from San Francisco I opened the can 
and sampled the canned and sweetened version. It is not a favorable comparison. 
The heavier syrupy sweetness completely destroys the natural sweetness of the rambutan and the flesh becomes more dense. It thus becomes the best advertisement for fresh rambutan. However, an additional day removed from the fresh rambutan, I cut up some of the canned fruit and put it on my boiled whole wheat for breakfast and it was actually pretty good. The texture is not as nice as pear on wheat, but the taste works well. I can only imagine what fresh rambutan would be like. From here on out, if I see more fresh rambutan in a market, I'm buying it. 


  1. I agree rambutan is good stuff. If your interested, there is a vietnamese store on Waterman in San Bernadino that sells them.

  2. read bout your experience about rambutan.

    the one that in the picture can be consider as too ripe - when the skin is dark red. if it is bit watery..that is way to ripe and will be spoil in few days.

    good rambutan should be either yellow or bright red.

  3. very interesting and informative article. i enjoyed reading this and i learned something here today. thank you for sharing.