Fruit – Tamarillo

The tamarillo is also called a “tree tomato”.  It doesn’t have much of an aroma to speak of, and the purple ones look like oblong plums (there are also red and yellow versions).  The outer skin is much thicker than a tomato, and inedibly bitter.  The flesh inside is orange, and softly firm – similar to a non-grainy tomato tecture, but more firm like a persimmon.  Inside the flesh are small seeds, encased in a dark red juicy pulp.  When cut, the juice tends to run out a little bit, and looks like the juice from a blood orange (very red).  The taste is tangy, and savory-sweet.  It tastes like a deeply ripe tomato, with a hint of passionfruit and guava.  The aftertaste is mostly savory, like the aftertaste of a somewhat tart fresh tomato.

There’s a wikipedia article at:


Fruit – Pulasan


Pulasan is a close relative of the rambutan (and lychee).  Its outer spines are much more stiff than the rambutan’s, so it feels rough, though not sharp.  The spines are just stiff enough to use as leverage in order to peel the fruit, which makes getting into these the easiest version of these fruit relatives so far – just grab on and pull or twist, and the skin comes right off.  It doesn’t really have much of an aroma, just a mild sweet fragrance.  The edible inside flesh is juicy and springy-soft, like a firm grape.  Its flavor is basically just sweet, with no real other distinguishing qualities – it tastes like a mild lychee, but it could also be compared to a very bland grape.  There’s a single large seed in the middle of each fruit, which is not eaten.  There is a bark-like shell around the inner seed, like a rambutan, but it only sometimes clings to the edible flesh, making this fruit significantly easier to eat.

There is a wikipedia article about pulasan at

Fruit – Sugar Aple


The sugar apple (sometimes called a custard apple or sweetsop) is related to the soursop and the cherimoya.  Most of them are actually green colored, but we found some really nice looking purple ones.  The outer skin is relatively soft, but fairly thick, and kind of resembles a pine cone with its bumpy segmented shape.  Inside, a whole bunch of small black seeds are individually encased in the creamy white flesh segments.  The flesh is somewhat grainy, and tastes sweet and creamy, almost like a mild banana-mango custard.  There is no real smell to the fruit itself.

More information about sugar apples:

Fruit – Ciku (Sapodilla)


Called a sapodilla back home, and ciku (chikoo, chiku) in Malaysia (and sapota or zapota in other places), we actually had a hard time getting a ripe version of this.  From the outside, it looks rather like a small potato, having a rough brown, grainy skin and oblong appearance.  When ripe, they are somewhat soft when squeezed, like a tomato.  The inside flesh is soft and and earthy brown in color, it looks and feels almost like a well-cooked sweet potato.  Contained within are a few hard black seeds.  When unripe, the flesh is hard and extremely drying to the mouth, like an unripe persimmon (or the most heavily over-brewed tea you can think of).  When ripe though, the soft flesh is deliciously sweet and malty, almost like a toasted brown sugar or caramel flavor.

For more info, see the wikipedia article:

Fruit – Soursop

Soursop has a somewhat soft green or green-yellow skin, covered with soft spine bumps (the spines are also really soft, and usually break off).  It varies in size somewhat but is about the size of a coconut.  The hard black seeds are a flat oval shape, and inedible.  The flesh is offwhite, and quite soft.  It’s juicy and a little grainy, with some stringy fibers like you might find in a very stringy mango.  We tried eating it with a spoon at first because it is so soft, but the fibers made that not work out very well.  It smells like banana, pineapple, and gardenia flowers.  It tastes, again, like banana-pineapple-gardenia, plus has some sour and acidic flavor.  We’ve had soursop juice before (it’s pretty easy to get, soursop also grows in Mexico and multiple places in South America) and the fruit basically tastes exactly like the juice, just with more fiber.

There’s more information on soursop here:

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.

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: