Enjoy trying one of these exotic Asian fruits, they have beautiful vibrant colors, unique rinds, and a dazzling array of flavors that will dance on your palate.
Trying new exotic fruits not only has many health benefits it’s fun to try new foods. Many of the common fruits grown in south Asia, China, and the West Indies are rich in vitamin C, have a surplus of antioxidants, B vitamins, fiber and help build a strong immune system.
Many of these fruits you can find in your local market but some might be easier to buy in specialty southeast Asia grocery or Asian market.
Appearance: Asian pears are shaped more like an apple with a circular top-dimpled shape. Their color may also vary from yellow to brown, and the skin may be smooth or speckled.
Taste: They taste closer to a pear than an apple. They have a sweet, floral flavor that is less acidic than an apple.
How to eat: Eat an Asian Pear like a regular pear or apple, eating the skin and flesh, leaving the seeds and core—Bake in sweet or savory dishes.
Appearance: Breadfruit is oval with a prickled skin.
Taste: This fruit gets its name from the way it tastes. When cooked, it tastes very similar to bread.
How to eat: The fruit’s flesh can be sauteed, mashed, or baked in savory or sweet dishes.
Appearance: Buddha’s hand fruit is one of the most unique fruits on the planet. It is not round or oval like most fruits but actually looks like a hand, with finger-like tentacles. This strange-looking fruit can reach up to a foot long.
Taste: Buddha’s Hand has a sweet smell, with a bit of lemon and lavender combined. It has no juice, seeds, or pulp. The oily pith, unlike in other citrus fruit, is sweet, not bitter.
How to eat: Can be used raw or cooked in baked goods, salads, alcoholic infusions, and preserves.
Appearance: Chinese bayberry is a purplish round fruit that looks somewhat like a raspberry. The fruit is not a berry, however, but a drupe like cherries.
Taste: The taste is between a strawberry and a cranberry. It has a texture like eating an orange but a pit like a cherry. It’s mildly sweet with a hint of tart.
How to eat: Eat them like you would a cherry, pop them in your mouth, and spit out the pit. After removing the pit, the bayberries can be baked in sweet or savory dishes, infused in drinks, or made into a preserve.
Appearance: The coconut has three layers—the thick fibrous husk wrapped around a single seed nut with coconut juices inside the seed.
Taste: The coconut flesh has a slightly sweet vanilla flavor with a hint of nuttiness. Some believe the best part is the sweet liquid inside.
How to eat: The flesh can be eaten raw or dried. The sweet succulent flesh ads a layer of sweetness in savory dishes. The coconut milk can be drunk straight from the coconut or blended into sweet drinks and recipes.
Appearance: Dates are a stone fruit with a brown, fleshy outer layer and a sweet chewy flesh inside. They grow in large clusters, and each date ranges in size from 1.2 to 2.8 inches long.
Taste: Dried dates have a delightful caramel taste with hints of cocoa flavor.
How to eat: Dried dates can be eaten whole or chopped up and added to cereal, oatmeal, cookies, and smoothies. They also sweeten sauces, dressing, and marinades. They are good to use in sweet and savory cooking.
Appearance: There are beautiful bright red, purple or yellow-skinned varieties with prominent green scales. The fruit is oval, elliptical, or pear-shaped. The fruit flesh is either white or red with edible black seeds throughout.
Taste: The flesh has a slightly sweet flavor with just a hint of tartness.
How to eat: The flesh can be eaten straight from the skin or cut into pieces and added into salads, fruit bowls, or smoothies.
Appearance: The fruit looks like a foot-long sea urchin.
Taste: The inside flesh has a sweet, buttery texture with not much juice. It has a slightly slimy texture. Some people do not like the taste at all, while others love it.
How to use: Can be eaten raw or fried. You can add it to rice dishes or desserts such as ice cream, cheesecakes, and smoothies.
Appearance: Guava is a tropical fruit that is round to pear-shaped and is about 3 inches in diameter. The pulp contains many tiny hard seeds. The skin is yellowish with pink flesh.
Taste: The fruit can have a musty, pungent smell with a sweet pulp that some people find not enjoyable.
How to use: Since guavas are high in pectin, they tend to thicken the ingredients when added to desserts they are cooked in. They are good in preserves and made into pastes to spread on meats, bread, and pastries.
Appearance: Small round fruits that look like berries. The fruit can be red, yellow, green, black, or dark purple. The skin is thin and covers a fleshy pulp with seeds in the middle like a pit.
Taste: Tart and not very sweet. The texture is similar to eating an apple. The seeds contain cyanide and should not be eaten, similar to apples.
How to use: They can be cooked into preserves or dried as fruit leather.
Appearance: Jackfruit is similar to an oblong honeydew mellow or large mango. It’s the largest tree fruit in the world and can reach up to 100 pounds.
Taste: Has a distinctive musky strong odor and taste like Juicy Fruit gum.
How to use: Ripe jackfruit can be eaten fresh or added to ice cream and desserts. If unripe, it can be pulled apart and used as a substitute for chicken, pork, or other vegetarian main dishes.
Appearance: The fruit is 2 to 3 inches in diameter and yellow to reddish-orange. It can look similar to a tomato in appearance.
Taste: When completely ripe, the persimmon taste like a cross between a mongo and red sweet pepper with a hint of cinnamon. They are sweet with a slightly tangy flavor.
How to eat: They can be used raw in salads, on cereals, oatmeal, and smoothies. Persimmons can be substituted for apples in savory dishes, desserts, and jams.
Appearance: Kumquats are small petite sized similar to an orange. They have a bright orange peel that is edible.
Taste: They have a slightly sweet but also robust sour flavor.
How to eat: They make excellent preserves and add a nice sour note to cocktails and desserts.
Appearance: Langsat fruit is oblong or elliptical with thick grayish-yellow skin. They appear similar to potatoes but pull apart like a mandarin orange.
Taste: The fruit’s texture is juicy and slightly creamy with a tangy, sour, and sweet combination. The flesh has a gummy feel.
How to eat: The fruit is peeled and eaten raw. Langsat can also be cooked in a dessert.
Appearance: Longan has translucent flesh and large black circular seeds with white spots.
Taste: The flesh is musky and has a sweet taste similar to lychee fruit.
How to eat: Longan can be eaten fresh, dried, or canned. It can be used in jellies, salads, smoothies, and desserts.
Appearance: Loquats fruits grow in rounded clusters and are 1 to 2 inches long. They are smooth with yellow or orange, sometimes red to dark pink skin.
Taste: Loquats are slightly tart with notes of citrus when fully ripe.
How to eat: Loquats are delicious baked in desserts such as cakes, tarts, or cobblers. They also are tasty in salad dressings and smoothies.
Appearance: Lotuses have white or pink flowers that grow in shallow water. The tubers are similar to sweet potatoes. The seeds look like peas and can also be eaten.
Taste: Lotus tubers and stems have a mild-tasting, slightly sweet flavor. The seeds are sweet.
How to eat: Flowers can be dried and added to recipes when cooking. The leaves and stems can be eaten raw or cooked. The lotus seeds can be ground into a paste to make pastries. The lotus tubers can be sliced and added to soups, stir-fries, and casseroles. They can also be deep-fried, boiled, or pickled. They make a pretty garnish on salads and rice dishes.
Appearance: The lychee skin is green when immature and red or pink-red when ripe. The flesh is coved with small sharp protuberances that are roughly textured. They resemble the seed pods from a sweet gum tree but have longer soft spikes.
Taste: Lychee tends to taste like a mild cross between a watermelon and a strawberry.
How to eat: Lychee is peeled and eaten fresh. The fruit can be diced and put on salads or in smoothies.
Appearance: Mangos are oval round or kidney-shaped fruit. They can vary in size from a plum to a four or 5-pound fruit, depending on the variety—Different varieties range in color from red and yellow to a dull green. The flesh is pale orange with a pit in the center.
Taste: Mangos are very juicy with a texture similar to peaches. They are very sweet with a slight buttery flavor.
How to eat: Mangos are delicious eaten plain or in salads, desserts, and ice cream. They are a perfect addition to smoothies.
Appearance: Mangosteen fruit is the size of a small orange, round with a flattened end. The rind is a deep reddish-purple.
Taste: The fruit tastes sweet and tangy but is somewhat fibrous, similar to citrus fruit flesh. The rind is inedible, however.
How to eat: Mangosteen can be eaten fresh or in salads. They also make good juice. They are an excellent addition to ice cream, puddings, and desserts.
Appearance: Meyer lemons are smaller than a regular lemon, with smoother thin skin that is a deep yellow to orange in color.
Taste: Meyers are similar to regular lemons in taste, except they have a milder, less sour tang.
How to eat: Meyers can be used in cocktails and smoothies. Their peel can be candied. They make an excellent addition to salads or preserved as a marmalade.
Appearance: Noni is green, yellow, white, or even a milky translucent color, depending on how ripe they are. They have bulging amphibian-like skin covered in bumpy, wart-like growths.
Taste: Fresh noni has a tart sour taste When ripe, it tastes like Munster cheese and has a similar flavor to fish sauce.
How to eat: The fruit can be juiced and used for primarily medicinal purposes as an antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory drink.
Appearance: Papaya is usually spherical to cylindrical. They range from three to 20 inches in length with very juicy flesh that is yellow to deep orange. They have thin skin that is greenish orange when ripe.
Taste: Papaya has a similar taste to cantaloupe with a hint of mango flavor. When ripe, their texture is buttery and melts in your mouth. However, unripe they are primarily flavorless.
How to eat: After scooping the seeds out of the center, it is served as fresh fruit like a melon. Papaya is good in savory dishes such as chicken or fish. They are good diced into salads or smoothies.
Appearance: Passion fruit is round and about 3 inches long. It has a thick waxy rind. The flesh has sacs filled with orange-colored juice and tiny crunch seeds.
Taste: Passion fruit has a fruit yet tart flavor.
How to eat: The fruit can be eaten raw. It is also good to make sauces, salad dressing, tarts, and candy. The juice is excellent in cocktails and smoothies.
Appearance: Pitaya is also known as dragon fruit. It has a pink peel with green scales. The inside flesh is white with tiny black seeds. They can also be magenta-colored inside with a yellow peel.
Taste: The sweet flesh is slightly sweet with a taste crossed between a pear and a kiwi.
How to eat: You can cut the pitaya in 1/2 and eat the fruit right out of the skin with a spoon. It is delicious in smoothies, sliced in salads, and as a fruit salad. It is also great in ice cream and other fruit-based desserts.
Appearance: Pomelo is a large citrus fruit similar to grapefruits. The rind ranges from green to yellow. The flesh is creamy white or pink. The pith is thicker than most citrus fruits.
Taste: A. pomelo tastes very close to a grapefruit but with a bit less bitterness.
How to eat: Peel the fruit and eat fresh like an orange. It also makes good juice. The fruit can be used to make preserves, marinades, put in salads, and salsa.
Appearance: Pulasan looks very similar to rambutan but they are different fruits. A pulasan has a thick, leathery skin, with short, blunt spikes covering the outside. The outer skin is green and purple. When peeled, inside the flesh is a white-yellow orb.
Taste: The flesh is a thick creamy texture, that has the same sweet and sour balance as a grape or rambutan, but it is sweeter than a rambutan.
How to eat: The fruit can be eaten out of hand, made into a jam, or juiced. The seeds can be boiled or toasted and used to make a warm drink.
Appearance: Ripe rambutans are red, orange, or yellow. They have hair-like spines that turn black. The succulent flesh inside is white ball with a seed in the center.
Taste: When peeled, the flesh has a sweet taste.
How to eat: The flesh can add a sweet flavor to various foods such as salads, curries, and ice cream. The fruit can be eaten fresh or canned.
Appearance: Sapodilla is shaped like a chicken egg with rough, brown skin when ripe. The flesh inside is a grainy yellow fruit.
Taste: When ripe, the fruit is soft, sweet, and juicy, similar to a pear.
How to eat: The fruit can be eaten fresh after removing the skin and seeds. It is good in salads, sauces, syrups, pies, or other baked goods.
Appearance: Snake fruit is similar in size to a fig. The rough skin is dark brown and, when mature, has the appearance of scales like a snake. It is prickly like a cactus. The inside flesh is creamy white divided into three lobes. The seeds are not inedible.
Taste: The edible fruit has a flesh inside that is sweeter than honey but has a touch of sour like a pineapple.
How to eat: After peeling, the fruit is eaten fresh. It is also pickled and served as a dessert.
Appearance: Soursop fruit is oval with spiny green skin. It averages 8 inches long and can weigh up to 10 pounds.
Taste: Soursop taste is a cross between an apple and a strawberry with a hint of citrus.
How to eat: Soursop is good in smoothies and makes a refreshing fruit juices.
Appearance: Star fruit is yellow or green. The fruit grows 3 to 4 inches long with the shape of a five-pointed star when cut. The surface is smooth and firm.
Taste: The smaller fruit is a bit sour; however, a larger fruit is sweeter.
How to eat: The star fruit can be enjoyed fresh in salads and smoothies. It can be baked in cakes or made into jams.
Sugar apple/ Sweetsop
Appearance: Sugar apple has a reddish-yellow or white flesh and a knobby quilted exterior that is green or slightly yellow. The fruit is segmented and tends to pull apart when ripe. The sugar apple has different names in some stores it’s called sweetsop.
Taste: The flesh has a creamy custard flavor.
How to eat: The flesh from a sweetsop can be used to make custards, puddings, or baked goods like an apple.
Appearance: Tamarillo is oval-shaped and grows 2-4 inches long. It has smooth glossy skin. It has a variety of colors ranging from purple to red to pale yellow. The flesh is anywhere from bright orange to pale yellow and contains black edible seeds.
Taste: The outer skin has a bitter taste and peeled off. The flesh is tangy and lightly sweet, similar to kiwifruit or guava.
How to eat: Tamarillo is usually eaten cooked because it is so tart when raw. It can be used in ice cream, sorbets, and compliments fish or chicken.
Appearance: The wax apple resembles an apple in color and skin only because they are a berry. The bottom of the fruit is slightly puckered in the center. The smooth skin ranges from purple, red to pale green. The average size is six centimeters in length. The flesh is white and spongy, with a large seed in the center.
Taste: The wax apple is slightly crunchy and juicy with a mild sweet flavor similar to an Asian pear.
How to eat: Waxed apples are good to bak within tarts or pies. They can be used to make wine and juice.
Appearance: Yuzu is in the citrus family and looks like a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. It has slightly wrinkled skin and is an orange-yellow color when ripe.
Taste: The flavor is a combination of grapefruit and mandarin orange with a hint of lemon.
How to eat: Yuzu is used as a souring agent in recipes. It is good to use in hot pots, fish dishes, custards, and stir-fried vegetables. It also is used to make tea, vinegar, and miso.