What looks like a sea urchin and tastes like a delicious tropical grape? Rambutan! Frieda’s is now shipping these punky little fruits to supermarkets around the United States, as the Central American crop is now in season.
Basically a “hairy” Lychee (Rambutan means “hairy” in Malay), Rambutan are grown in clusters on trees in tropical climates, including Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Costa Rica, Hawaii (irradiated) Thailand (irradiated) and now Vietnam and Malaysia (irradiated). The name for Rambutan in Spanish is “Mamon Chino.”
There are two main Rambutan colors – red and yellow. Both feature a leathery outer shell decorated with soft spines, and an internal lychee-like fruit surrounding a small seed (fruit does not stick to the seed). The yellow variety is sweeter but with a much shorter shelf life, so these are typically not shipped to the U.S.
If you are adventurous enough to try some fresh Rambutan, you will be delighted by their sweet, juicy tropical flavor — like a tropical grape! To eat them, just pry open the shell with your fingers or score it with a paring knife, then nibble the juicy pearlescent flesh that covers the seed.
Check out these blogs for some more Rambutan inspiration: YumSugar and Steamy Kitchen. (Jaden of the popular Steamy Kitchen blog even writes about how her kids love to play with the Rambutan shells – they become spiky hats for their toys!)
Curious about Lychees? Check out this previous post.