Similar to lychee in taste and size, rambutan is actually quite different in texture and appearance. Originating from Malaysia, these fruits are grown on trees, and they are covered in soft red, yellow, and green “hairs”. Consequently, Rambutan translates to “hairy fruit” in Malay. In Vietnamese, rambutan is called “chôm chôm”, which translates to “messy hair” in English. This hairy appearance gives way to a fibrous and juicy fruit that hugs a beige pit. Their sweet, flowery and almost grape-like flavours make this fruit popular in Asia.
How to Select
At the store, you’ll find most rambutan in plastic wrapped in bunches so it’s hard to pick and choose them individually. Look for rambutan that has a deep, red colour with bright green filaments. Those that are slightly yellowed or have browned tendrils may still be good to eat, but the discolouration indicates that they’ve been off the tree for a longer period.
Avoid rambutan fruits that have brown soft spots, mould, or are completely brown.
How to Store
Rambutan is best enjoyed as soon as possible after purchase. Alternatively, store it in the original packaging or in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to five days.
How to Prepare
Despite their hairy appearance, rambutan are quite easy to prepare. With a sharp knife, pare through the skin across the middle to open and reveal the white fruit. Pop it out of the other half and eat around the pit. To pit them for drinks or a salad, cut in half and remove the pit.
How to Freeze
You can freeze rambutans whole to enjoy at a later date. Freezing them whole means that the rind protects the fruit in the frozen state. Flash freeze by spreading whole fruits onto a baking sheet in the freezer, then transfer to an airtight bag or container once frozen. Thaw before enjoying and peel and eat as you would normally.
- If you’re serving rambutan on a fancy fruit platter, prepare them by cutting them in half so guests can hold the hairy half and show off their striking appearance. This will surely create some interest and conversation!
- There’s a papery layer between the almond-like seed and the fruit that tends to come off when eating the fruit. This paper is safe and adds a bit of texture if you choose to eat it.
- Keep the rambutan wrapped in plastic in the fridge if you wish to store it.
- You can open up the fruit without a knife. If you aren’t worried about sticky hands, just pierce the skin with your thumb and pry it open!
Goes well with
Rambutan is typically enjoyed as a snack on its own, but you can combine rambutan with other tropical fruits such as pineapple, mango, dragonfruit, mangosteen, orange, lime, kiwi, coconut, or papaya. Rambutan’s grapelike flavour also goes well with other fruits like pears, apples, cherries, or peaches.
Try rambutan in a cocktail with ginger, lime and rum! Pit the rambutan and muddle with lime, ginger, and rum or vodka. Strain and enjoy as a martini! Or you can turn it into a fizzy drink by mixing it with a lemon-lime soda like Sprite or 7-Up.
Serve rambutan in a fruit salad with the above mentioned tropical fruits, or serve it on a fruit platter at a party with half of the outer shell still intact for an interesting display.
We’re so intrigued by this savoury rambutan dish! Traditional Asian flavours from ground pork, peanuts, and garlic meld with the sweetness of rambutan.