Fruit – Mangosteen

Mangosteen is called the “queen of fruit”.  It is the size of a tangerine.  The exterior is a dark purple color, and when first picked is fairly soft, but it hardens over time.  Inside, the white flesh segments of the fruit are edible, though the bigger ones (there are almost always only one or two big ones) contain seeds which aren’t commonly eaten.  The flesh is juicy and soft, with a bit of softly stringy fiberousness (the fiber gets a little tougher in older fruits, and is more apparent in the larger segments).  It tastes like a really good white grape juice, with a bit more floral notes.  The fruit strikes almost a perfect balance between sweet and light acidity, and the flavor is strong but not overwhelming, so they appeal to almost all tastes.  Unfortunately they don’t can/freeze/freeze dry well, and most of the flavor is lost in the process.  Mangosteens were banned for import into the United States until 2007 or so, so they’re still not widely available there.  However, if you do get a chance to try fresh mangosteen, do so!  If you like fruit at all, you’ll probably like them.

More mangosteen info:

Fruit – Duku

Langsat and duku.  These are related (different groups of cultivars of the same species), and vary slightly in appearance and taste (though not so much that I would be able to tell you what the differences are).  These were labeled as “dukong” which is supposed to be a cross between langsat and duku.  Similar to a lychee, there is a peelable thin outer skin which contains the inner tender flesh.  The flesh divides into segments (like a mangosteen) and some larger segments contain a single seed.  The fleshy segments are very juicy, and have a flavor like a sweet, mild grapefruit (with a tartness to it instead of the bitterness a grapefruit would have).

There’s a wikipedia article if you want more information at

Fruit – Durian

Durian probably is (or should be) on any list of “extremely strange fruits” out there.  Durian literally means “thorny” because of the hard thorny outside shell.  They grow on trees, and can actually be dangerous if they fall on you (they vary in size, but are about the size of a human head).  Inside the durian, there are segments of yellow flesh surrounding large seeds.  The flesh is soft and creamy/sticky, almost like a custard or mashed banana.

The smell and taste, however, is what really makes durian unique.  The smell is extremely strong, pervasive, and lingering – durians are banned in a lot of hotels and from most public transportation.  Its smell is also very distinctive, and not immediately appetizing (actually pretty unappetizing) unless you’re a fan of durian and have associated it with actually eating durian – it smells a bit like a rotting sweet onion, and comparisons to the smells of sweaty feet, body odor, sewage, and certain petroleum products like gasoline are not uncommon (nor really inaccurate).  The exact flavor of durian varies depending on what kind you get (there are a number of different cultivars, each seems to have a somewhat different flavor and price).  The general “durian” flavor though is like a sweet pudding, with onion and garlic (sulfur) and toasted almond.  The aftertaste leans much more heavily toward the sulfur/onion/garlic taste, with more than a hint of some quality that would be associated with something putrid or fermented.  The taste and smell lingers in the mouth and on the hands for quite some time after eating (and burping after eating durian rather seems like you ate a few cloves of raw, possibly rotten garlic).  We both like durian quite a bit – like many things though, it’s an acquired taste (and people are always surprised that we have eaten it before AND like it).  All kinds of durian products are available – durian cake, durian candy, durian puffs (puff pastry with durian filling), durian ice cream, durian chocolate, durian cendol… We’re probably going to miss durian when we return home.

Tioman Island Diving

We went back to Tioman for more SCUBA diving.  The island itself is quite beautiful, and we had a room right on the beach.


And I finally got some diving video!  I made two versions of the video, the first one is the “short” version which is about 5 minutes long, the second is the extended version and is about 20 minutes long.  Both of these videos are available in 1080p quality, but you will probably have to change the video quality setting (it’s the little gear in the bottom menu of the player).


The longer version (it has a lot of cool stuff that had to be cut out of the first version):

Fruit – Salak

Salak, or “snake fruit” gets its name not from actual snakes, but from the scaly brown skin.  It actually grows on palm trees.  The dry outside peels easily away from the tender inner flesh segments, which have seeds in them (kind of like a mango, the seed is quite attached to the flesh).  The edible flesh is silky-soft, like a firm peach (though different variations have different levels of firmness).  It smells like a palm tree (which means it smells kind of like pine) with musky undertones.  The flavor is intense.  It’s sweet, and sour, with an astringent edge like you get from a pineapple or not-quite-ripe kiwi.  It tastes kind of like an intense, acidic strawberry-orange-pineapple mix.

The wikipedia article on snake fruit is here:

Fruit – Rambutan

Rambutan means “hairy” (why be creative with a fruit name when you can just be descriptive, right?).  This fruit is a relative of the lychee, and shares quite a few of the same characteristics.  The spines on the skin are actually quite soft, not pokey.  Keep an eye out in any sci-fi TV show or movie that has “alien fruits” and you’re likely to spot these funny looking things (and also dragon fruits).  The outside is peeled away (or cut, it can be a little thick to peel by hand sometimes) and discarded, and in the center of the white edible flesh is a single large seed (also not eaten, though some times you end up eating a little of it anyway, since it can be really hard to separate the outside of the pit from the flesh).  The flesh is like a lychee or grape – slightly springy, soft and wet.  It has a sweet and floral flavor (it really tastes almost like a lychee, so if you know what those taste like, you know about what a rambutan tastes like).

There’s a wikipedia article on rambutan here:

Fruit – Lychee

The fruit in Malaysia is interesting, and though a lot of it can be obtained in the USA, it’s usually not as good as it should be or costs quite a bit.  This is the first in probably a good number of posts describing some of the fruits (and possibly vegetables) we’ve tried.

A number of fruits here are relatives of or most easily compared to lychee, so it seems prudent to start with a description of lychee fruits.

Lychee fruits have a bumpy exterior skin which is removed to get to the tender white flesh.  Inside the white flesh is a single large seed (not generally eaten).  The lychee pulp is soft and wet with just a bit of springiness, quite similar to a medium-firm peeled grape.  It smells flowery, and the taste is kind of like a flowery sweet grape.  You can get these fresh (the best way) or canned (the canning process removes quite a bit of the smell and flavor but they’re still pretty good), and they’re served in many desserts and drinks.

There’s a wikipedia article if you want more information on lychee at