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Fun Food: Rambutan

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What on earth has landed on our dinner table? No, it’s not an alien invasion; it’s the beginning of rambutan season. The rambutan (also known as “hairy cherry”) is a beautiful, otherworldly tropical fruit that could scare off just about anyone who didn’t know what sweet pleasures lie beneath its bristly exterior. The taste of the soft white flesh is closest to a grape, but with rich tropical overtones.

According to Frieda’s, the specialty produce company who generously sent us a big box of rambutans, these little fruits are grown in clusters on trees in tropical climates such as Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Costa Rica. They can come in either red or yellow, with red being the more common variety.

To prepare the rambutan for eating, pry open the shell or score it with a paring knife, and then pop out the juicy white fruit. The fleshy white orb surrounds a seed that you don’t want to eat, so you can either nibble around the seed or cut it out entirely.

We think the best way to eat rambutans is to put them on the table and let everyone explore their taste and texture. But if you want to make it a little more of a special event, serve chopped and pitted rambutan on top of yogurt or ice cream for a tropical summer treat.

Even better, you can use these appealing little orbs to make a kid-friendly salad that will tempt your little ones into eating their greens:

Rockin’ Rambutan Salad

3 cups crisp romaine lettuce cut into thin strips (about one small head)

8 rambutans, peeled, seeded, and chopped

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/4 cup sesame seeds, lightly toasted

For the dressing:

1/4 cup sesame oil

1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice (about two limes’ worth)

1 tablespoon honey

Divide lettuce among four plates. Sprinkle with rambutan, almond, and sesame seeds. In a small bowl, whisk together sesame oil, lime juice, and honey. Drizzle over each salad plate. Serves four.

Rambutans are available at Ralphs Select and Ralphs Fresh Fare stores, or by special request from the produce manager. They are also available through August directly from Frieda’s.

Jolly Tomato’s Fun Food: Because food should be fun.


5 Responses to Fun Food: Rambutan

  1. amee July 6, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    Interesting. I didn’t know what this fruit was. Thanks for educating me! looks like lychee?

    • jollytomato July 8, 2011 at 9:59 am #

      Hi Amee! Yeah, it’s probably closest to the lychee – but a lot hairier! Don’t let the hair turn you off, though. It’s very tasty. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. frieda's July 12, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

    Ralphs in Hollywood will have Rambutan in store tomorrow, and a few others!

    • jollytomato July 12, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

      Great news! Thanks for letting us know!


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