A Guide to Vietnam’s Many Fruits

The inside of a purple mangosteen.

Vietnam is becoming a popular tourist area because of its clear beach resorts and ancient temple sites. However, another alluring reason to visit this nation on the Indochina peninsula is for the fresh fruits and their unique tastes.

The act of having to squeeze a fruit in order to get to its meat is not common in the United States. However, that’s exactly what eaters are expected to do to eat a mangosteen.

Purple mangosteens are tart-sweet fruits whose origin can be found in Indonesia. Its skin is thick and the color of an eggplant. Its texture is smooth; when it’s ripe, the outside layer is pliable, but when it’s not, it can be hard as rock. Inside, the meat is white and slimy to touch and separated into several pieces like a clementine or an orange.

In the United States, mangosteens can cost up to $9.99 a pound in Chinatown. Vendors in Vietnam usually sell for 20,000-30,000 Vietnamese dollars, dong , per kilogram, which is around the range of a dollar to $2.50. If that price doesn’t suit you, just be thankful it’s 2011; in 2007, there was an import ban against mangosteens because the U.S. was afraid they would carry fruit flies.

To avoid a mess when eating, you can use a knife to make a circumventive slice and peel open the skin.

The next delectable fruit that you can find growing in trees all around South Vietnam is rambutan. Like the mangosteen, this fruit is uncommon in the U.S and grows in tropical climates. People are normally speculative of the fruit once setting sights on its prickly red skin. Rambutans only ripen when on the tree because they don’t rot as easily.

The price of a good amount of rambutans ranges, but is usually cheaper than mangosteens.

To eat, you can just dig your fingernails in and rip the outside open. Inside is white and sweet oval-shaped meat with a seed at its center. When you do eat them though, keep them covered; insects like bees and fruit flies are highly addicted to rambutans.

Last, but not least of the fruits of Vietnam is longan. Grown on trees, these small marble-shaped fruits are also known as ‘dragon eyes’ because inside each fruit is a black seed and so, with the white succulent layer surrounding it, it looks like an

A peeled longan.


These are a bit easier to come by in the U.S. Go to the nearest Asian market in the summer, you might find some. But, beware! Don’t expect them to be so good, because they were likely frozen for a long period of time. In Vietnam, however, go to an open air market and you know you can find fresh batches.

Some people compare its smell to that of nail polish remover, but rest assured that the taste is nothing of the like. Longans and their outside usually feel bark-like and firm, but inside is, once again, white meat.

The tropical climate of Vietnam helps nurture these delicious fruits, which are available yearlong because the lack of the colder seasons. Travelers should be careful though, as some of these unfamiliar fruits can cause allergic reactions. It’s best to try a little bit of each fruit, and if nothing happens, dig in!

Published in Associated Content-Yahoo! Contributor Network on August 25, 2011

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