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Seasonal delights

SAMUI: For newcomers to Thailand, walking through the fresh-fruit market or in the supermarket presents a pleasant challenge. What on earth are these fruits? Well, here are some of them that are in season.

Thursday 3 November 2011, 12:18PM

Rambutan (Ngaw): best served chilled.

Rambutan (Ngaw): best served chilled.

All you need is a little knife and a willingness to take a risk to find some of the very best tastes that this country has to offer.


Durian (Turian)

Starting with a controversial choice, many (most?) Europeans can’t bear its strong smell and cheesy taste. Most Thais, and Asians, love it and will go to great length and expense to eat it.

The thick golden flesh, the consistency of ripe Camembert cheese and as strong in smell, is oblong in shape with large pips inside, and three to four of these fit into the formidable spiky exterior.

A strong knife is needed to hack in, or better still, buy it already peeled.

It’s in season at the moment, so be brave and good luck.


Rambutan (Ngaw)

This attractive red hairy fruit holds firm white flesh, pleasantly sweet and like hard jelly, that will please most people. The flesh peels easily from an oval pip. A little knick with a sharp knife cross-wise in the middle of the fruit, and the peel breaks easily apart.

Try serving it chilled, a few to a plate, peeled and with pips pushed out of the middle like pitted olives, leaving the fruits still whole.

Cooling and delicious.


Longans (Lumyai)


Mostly in the north around Chiang Mai way where they love the cooler climate, lumyai trees burst spectacularly into flowers and are covered with little white flowers. The bees then work overtime to turn these flowers into big bunches of longans that weigh down the branches.

The leathery skin cracks open easily to reveal transparent flesh that is again like hard-jelly and has its own attractive fragrance. The sweet flesh peels easily from the little round pips.

There are mountains of these around just now in its season.

And just as well.


Salak (Slak)

These unfriendly-looking spiky fruits grow in big bunches on low palm trees. Originally from Indonesia, it is known as snake fruit for its flaky rough skin like that shed by the reptile.

Under the skin are firm pale-yellow cloves with the consistency of garlic, minus the garlic taste and smell. Its best eaten while still firm and not too ripe, for its acidic sweet taste, which may take a little time to be accepted or liked.


Santol (Katorn)

Katorn are fruits of big trees. You will need your sharp knife to cut into this fruit to its soft flesh, with a delicate sweet taste, that sticks to rather large stones. Thais also eat the tart pink pulp area under the skin but that is an acquired preference.

Of course these are only some of the many local fruits to sample. No words or pictures can replace the simple act of trying them all.




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