There are so many exotic fruits here in Asia that the mind boggles. It would be a pity, if during our time here in Asia we did not try as many new ones as possible. I know our kids are boring as they only like the usual ones like oranges, apples and bananas. However, there are times that you have to get them to cross their comfort zone as they have no idea what they are missing out on. Even as an adults, you may be hesitant to try new things- how boring is that. Walk on the wild side- “the exotic side” and find out there is a whole sea of flavors waiting for your taste buds.
There are 4 interesting exotic fruits that I would like to share with you today. (Huang Pi, Cherimoya, Jack Fruit and Champagne Grapes) These fruits are all delightful in their own unique way and easily found when in season in the Hong Kong wet markets. These “desserts” are so easy to prepare you just wash and maybe peel and then eat. You have to love that kind of simplicity- enjoy these new exotic dessert fruits.
I dedicate this post to my dear friend, Yi, and our quest to try new exotic fruits.
1) Huang Pi (Yellow Skinned Fruit)
Huang Pi (黄皮) is a grape like shaped fruit that tastes sweet and like a citrus fruit. It has a very exotic flavor kind of like an orange, grapefruit and lemon all wrapped up into one tiny little fruit. Huang Pi has about 4-5 little green seeds inside. To eat the fruit, just peel and remove seeds and eat. Yummy!
The cherimoya is believed to be native to the inter-andean valleys of Ecuador, Colombia and Peru. Seeds from Mexico were planted in California in 1871. These little fruits should be slightly soft to the touch if they are ripe. They are very sweet with a very unique firm texture and many black seeds inside. It is hard to describe but it tastes something like a combination of a Jack fruit and a lychee fruit. A very unique experience but the only down side is a lot of work to eat as many seeds.
3) Jack Fruit
A Jack fruit is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, reaching 80 pounds in weight and up to 36 inches long and 20 inches in diameter. (The picture here is taken from the wet market in Wanchai, Hong Kong) The exterior of the compound fruit is green or yellow when ripe. The interior consists of large edible bulbs of yellow, banana-flavored flesh that encloses a smooth, oval, light-brown seed. The seed is 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches long and 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick and is white and crisp within.
There may be 100 or up to 500 seeds in a single fruit, which are viable for no more than three or four days. When fully ripe, the unopened jackfruit emits a strong disagreeable odor, resembling that of decayed onions, while the pulp of the opened fruit smells of pineapple and banana. There are two main varieties. In one, the fruits have small, fibrous, soft, mushy, but very sweet carpels with a texture somewhat akin to a raw oysters. The other variety is crisp and almost crunchy though not quite as sweet. (This is the one that is shown in the picture above)
4) Champagne Grapes
My son calls Champagne grapes- “baby grapes”. Indeed they are very small but pack a lot of taste in such a small fruit. They are sweet and rich tasting like sweet wine. Originally grown on the island on the coast of Greece and named for the city of Corinth. When these grapes are dried they are called currants. Champagne grapes are best eaten fresh but are also lovely dried and used in jams and desserts and of course to make some wines. However, my favorite way to eat these little wonders is frozen. Have you ever tried frozen grapes?
1) Wash grapes 2) Remove grapes from stem and place flat on baking sheet and put into freezer for about 2 hours. 3) Eat frozen grapes as a snack. Yum!
I hope that you will try some new fruits in the market and enjoy the new exotic flavors of these dessert fruits.