Thailand’s fruits are so diverse and plentiful that it’s hard not to incorporate them into your daily meals. However, if you are unsure about how to eat (or even recognize) some of the more exotic varieties, here’s a quick introduction to help you get comfortable.
Many of Thailand’s fruits are eaten raw after first being peeled or opened and then its flesh is scooped out and the seeds are discarded. Thailand’s fruits can be blended and consumed as a smoothie while others are used in desserts or eaten candied or dried. There are even varieties that can be prepared as vegetables when young and unripe, and some that have edible roots, leaves, and seeds.
This infamous fruit typically discourages its first-time eaters with its hard spiky exterior and off-putting smell. However, the golden-yellow flesh inside has a rich, creamy taste. Vendors will typically sell small pre-cut portions because the large fruit, which often measures 30cm or longer, is rather difficult to open. The flesh is tasty when served chilled, blended in a smoothie, and or as fried crisps.
Durian is rich in B-complex vitamins and potassium and has simple and easily digestible sugars as well as healthy fats. It is also an excellent source of fiber. Durian is one of the most calorie dense fruits with 147 calories per 100g of edible fruit.
This grape-sized fruit can be found growing in large hanging clusters in trees in Northern Thailand. It is surrounded by a tan shell-like exterior that must be first peeled away. Inside the sweet edible white flesh surrounds a marble-sized black seed. The larger varieties are often harvested and dried, but they are also eaten raw, candied, and added to desserts or cocktails.
Once peeled, 100g of low fat longan fruit has 60 calories. Longans are an excellent source of vitamin C and iron which help boost the immune system and prevent anemia, respectively.
This bell-shaped fruit contains crisp, very juicy, and just slightly sweet flesh that is whitish in color and somewhat translucent. The skin of the rose apple, which is available in both rosy pink and light green colors, can be eaten in conjunction with its flesh much like a traditional apple. After trimming away the center of the larger end, slice the whole fruit into wedges and enjoy by dipping in a sweet, salty, and slightly hot condiment or sauce.
Rose apple’s high fiber content helps to regulate food through the digestive tract and its diuretic propriety helps to flush out toxins from the liver and kidneys. It also contains an alkaloid that can regulate the conversion of starch into sugar that is helpful in managing diabetes
. 100g of rose apple contains 52 calories.
When ripe, this large green oblong-shaped fruit can be easily sliced open to reveal orange juicy flesh that tastes similar to other melons. Scoop out the small black seeds in the center and discard the waxy skin before slicing the fruit into cubes and eating. Alternatively, before this fruit ripens, the whitish green flesh can be used as a vegetable and grated to create the popular and refreshing green papaya salad.
Papaya is a good source of carotene and fiber and contains roughly 40 calories per 100g. Raw papaya also contains an excellent source of papain, an enzyme that aids in digestion and that is especially helpful when eaten with high protein diets.
Although there are countless more fruits, this mini introduction to some of Thailand’s less recognizable varieties are sure to get you interested in trying them.