What is a rambutan?
Coming from the Indonesian word 'rambut' which means hair, rambutan has a soft, flexible exterior shell which is covered in hair-like soft spines. It is a common fruit type in South East Asia, the same way an apple is common to many people in cooler climates.
Getting to know rambutan.
Closely related to the lychee, the tropical rambutan varies in type and quality. In Indonesia there are 22 good quality rambutan types; five of the leading ones are Rapiah, Aceh, Lebak Bulus, Cimacan, Binjai, and Sinyonya. The fruit are oval-shaped and usually 3 to 5 cm long. While the exterior makes it seem larger than a lychee, the inner fruit is actually smaller. Rambutan flesh is juicy, milky- white, translucent in colour, with a gelatinous texture surrounding a central seed. The flavour of a rambutan is more acidic than lychee, and is sweet and aromatic. It is a source of vitamin C, calcium and provides niacin, iron, protein and fiber.
- Open the rambutan by squeezing it, then peel half the skin off, leaving the other half to hold in your hand like a wrapper.
- Alternatively, use a knife to make an incision into the skin only, not the whole fruit, and squeeze it out.
- Beware of the big seed in the middle!
How to choose rambutan
A ripe rambutan is typically red but there are some varieties that finish with a bright yellow colour and some that end up with an orange blush. Don't worry; the flavour is pretty much the same! The best fruit have little or no black forming on the tips of the soft hairy spines. They are fragile and keep only a day or two at room temperature. For longer storage wrap in a perforated plastic bag and refrigerate. Menur
Recipe: Rambutan Fruit Salad
1 1/2 cups chilled and sweetened coconut juice
Peel and pit the rambutan. Dice or slice mango into short thin strips. Thinly slice the kiwis. Arrange in a small bowl, and top with chilled sweetened coconut juice.
Serve and enjoy.