Rambutan: An Exotic Fruit of Southeast Asia

1 rambutan

Part of the fun of exploring a new country as distant as Asia, is sampling exotic foods. Some look appealing; others not so much.

There are fruits and vegetables that we have not yet identified, much less tried. But the brightly colored round rambutan, with its hairy spikes, caught my eye and captured my curiosity almost immediately.

Walking through a market in Chiang Mai, we passed a local vendor with a supply of rambutans. She offered us a taste, showing us how to remove the shell and get to the fruit. The hairs on the outer shell are soft but the shell is thick and tough. She used her thumb to break into the shell. Later, I had to rely on a knife. The interior of the rambutan is white, sweet and syrupy with a pit in the center, which is fairly easy to separate from the fruit.

2 rambutanThe rambutan tree grows naturally in Thailand and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, and is closely related to the lychee.


This quick video demonstrates the technique and describes the flavor. It’s a shame that the prettiest part of fruit is discarded.