What Does One Do With All Those Exotic Fruits In The Produce Department? Today: Rambutan


I saw one of the absolute weirdest-looking fruits in the produce department recently. I really don’t know why or when someone thought, “Hey, I think I’ll eat that thing,” but someone did, and apparently they liked it enough that lots of people now like it. 🙂  Look at these things:

Please, if you’ve ever eaten one of these, let me know your thoughts.  As for me, I’ll just share with you here what I’ve learned by researching rambutan.  I have yet to work with them in the kitchen, though I did eat one at FRESH in Tyler. It was sweet and tasty!

Apparently rambutan, in countries like Malaysia, Thailand, the Phillippines, Vietnam, and Borneo, the rambutan are as common as apples are here in the U.S.  The hairy outer skin conceals a soft white flesh inside, surrounding a seed, which is discarded.  To open the rambutan, simply pierce through the skin with a paring knife, and slice it “around the equator.”  When you pull the skin apart, you see the sweet, white flesh. It can be popped out, and some juice may also drip out, which fans of the fruit catch in a bowl, as it is very sweet, too.

Here’s a great site for this popular exotic fruit, which includes many pictures, nutritional info, and ideas for use.  Rambutan Site

Now, here’s a simple recipe that includes rambutan from Jaden Hair’s great food blog, Steamy Kitchen. You should check it out!  She has some great rambutan pictures there. She’s a talented food photographer, as well as being a recognized recipe developer. Very talented lady!

Asian Tropical Fruit Salad

By Jaden Hair

To make the pineapple ring (it’s not really a bowl – there is no bottom), lop the green, spiny head off of the pineapple and the bottom stem off. Cut the pineapple into 3-4 pieces, crosswise. For each piece, use a small paring knife to run all along the inside edge of the pineapple. Push out the flesh to use in your salad (you’ll have to also cut the fruit off the tough, center core before adding to the salad). Place the ring on the plate and fill with fruit salad.

One can rambutan, drained
One can lychee, syrup reserved
One can longan, drained
1/2 fresh pineapple, cut into chunks
1 mango, cut into chunks
2 kiwi fruits, cut into small chunks
1 pint strawberries
juice of ½ lime
fresh mint leaves, julienned (optional)

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and toss. You can add the reserved lychee syrup to the fruit bowl – it’s more of a sweet water, not like a sticky syrup. In fact, any of the syrups from the longan, lychee or rambutan can be used and mixed into other fruit juices or in place of simple syrup in mixed drinks. Try it mixed with sparkling water!

Serves 6-8

Next, here’s an offering from Susannah Chen, which could be made with or without vodka, whatever your preference:

Rambutan Martini
From Susannah Chen
Rambutan MartiniIngredients

Ice cubes
1/2 cup pitted, peeled rambutans (fresh is preferred, but canned will work, too)
1-1/2 ounces ginger-flavored vodka, such as Skyy Infusions Ginger
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1 ounce club soda


  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine rambutans and muddle until they are broken up and have released their juices, but not completely pulverized.
  2. Fill the shaker halfway full with ice, then add ginger-flavored vodka, Cointreau, and club soda. Shake vigorously, then strain into a martini glass.

Ok, friends, there you are; a bit of education about the vitamin C-packed rambutan that you may never have seen before, and a couple of things you can do with it. These recipes are well-suited to our upcoming warm weather dining, don’t you think? Sounds like fun to me!   Enjoy!


4 thoughts on “What Does One Do With All Those Exotic Fruits In The Produce Department? Today: Rambutan

  1. As someone who realizes the healthy importance of fruit in our diet, I am thrilled that you are sharing such great information about these funny looking edibles. Rambutans not only are bursting with flavor but are high in vitamin C, plus copper, manganese, and trace elements of many other nutrients such as potassium, calcium, and iron.

    Rambutan’s a favorite fruit of mine when I lived in Thailand about 18 yrs ago. I look for Rambutans that are a bit bigger than a golf ball but more oval. They are best had somewhere around June-August as they seem to be most sweet, and large by then. As long as the fruit is bigger than a golf ball you can almost be assured it is more sweet than sour. When it’s ripe the flesh separates easily from the seed. When not quite ripe the flesh sticks to the rambutan seed and the taste is a little sour overall, still not a bad taste though!

    The hairs that cover this exotic fruit remind me of a caterpillar. In fact, next time, my 6 yr old grand-daughter, Kalli, comes for a visit I will introduce her to the exotic Rambutan fruit. As she holds one in her little hand, and strokes the hairy fruit, I think I shall tell her the story of “The Hungry Caterpillar”. I am sure we will be hungry ourselves after reading the story so we shall journey to my kitchen (better know as ” Gigi’s kitchen” to Kalli 🙂 and make the delicious, colorful & of course healthy “Asian Tropical Fruit Salad”.

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