I've spent the last two weeks in Thailand gorging on curries, noodles, and a ton of weird but amazing fruits. Southeast Asia grows a simply awe inspiring variety of fruits; below are some of our favorite discoveries from the trip.
Pictured above, Mangosteens are fairly difficult to find in the US. The delicate white flesh of the fruit is protected inside of the hard, purple shell. It's wildly sweet and soft in texture. When opening one up, beware of the juice that quickly squeezes out of the exocarp — that purple moisture will stain everything it touches. In season May-September.
This one is pretty well-known around the world…for smelling awful. The stink is indeed strong enough that a lot of people won't go near it, which is a shame, because it really does have a great flavor. Sweet and pungent, durian also happens to be among the most expensive fruit available at the market. If you have the opportunity to try fresh durian, I recommend you go for it. Beware when buying though — the smell is strong enough that you are often not allowed to bring it on buses, trains, taxis and even elevators in Asia. You might need to consume it right at point of sale. In season May-August.
This sweet fruit was actually my wife's favorite find in Thailand. We purchased a mangosteen for 5 baht (16˘) and the vendor made us try one of these. We'd never even heard of Sala before, let alone tasted one. It's a tropical palm fruit often called salacca or snake fruit in other tropical areas. They contain a large pit so be careful, but the sweet and tart flesh is not to be missed. In season May-December.
One of the funnier looking fruits you'll come across all over Thailand, Rambutan will remind you of a lychee with a psychedelic afro. In fact, the name comes from the Malay word 'rambut,' meaning hair. The sweet flesh surrounds a large pit, but the skin is easily removed by hand so you can eat a ton of them in a sitting. In season May-September.
As you probably guessed, the texture of these fruits is pretty loose. Often eaten with a spoon, the fruit contains many smooth black seeds throughout the flesh. In season from June-September.