Thanks to the Internet and the ease of overseas travel, most people are familiar with the durian fruit. With its distinctive exterior of a hard and spiky skin, the durian can grow as much as 7 lbs (3 kg). It shape ranges from round to elongated. Depending on the variety, its flesh can be pale yellow or red. The flesh, which has a smooth and silky texture, has an unique smell, which some find fragrant and others offensive. Besides being eaten raw, the fruit, for its distinctive taste and smell, is also used in many traditional dishes, snacks, drinks and desserts.
2. Dragon fruit (also known as pitaya)
The dragon fruits is round with prominent scales. Its skin can be yellow to pink or red. After peeling off the skin, you can find the soft and sweet white-coloured flesh, which contains many small edible black sweets. (Depending on the variety, the flesh can be white or red in colour.) The fruit is usually eaten chilled. With the fruit sliced open, one can scoop out the flesh with a spoon. It is also used to flavour drinks and pastries.
The rambutan has a very distinctive feature - its red and hairy skin and oval shape. Once the skin has been peeled off, you can find the translucent juicy flesh, which has a leathery texture. The taste is sweet and sour. The flesh also envelopes a seed, which is inedible. Like many of the fruits here, the rambutan is also a favourite in many traditional snacks and desserts, and has also been used to flavour drinks and ice-cream.
The fruit, which originated from Indonesia, is round with a smooth and thick dark-purple skin. Once the skin has been peeled off, there are 4 to 8 triangular segments of juicy and soft snow-white flesh. The fruit may be seedless or have 1 to 5 fully developed seeds, that cling to the flesh. The flesh is sweet with a sour tinge.
According to legend, Queen Victoria once offered knighthood to any subject who could bring her a mangosteen fruit in prime condition, though no one eventually succeeded. This was due to the difficulty in preserving the fruit during the long journey then from Southeast Asia to England.
5. Salak (also known as snake fruit or snakeskin fruit)
Native to Indonesia and Malaysia, the salak has the shape and size of a ripe fig but with a pointed tip and reddish-brown scaly skin. Contrary to its appearance, the skin is rather thin, making the fruit easily bruised. To eat it, break off the fruit tip and peel back the skin to reveal three yellowish-white lobes and a dark brown seed (which is inedible). It has a crisp apple-like texture and sweet flavour. Salak is commonly used to make fruit salad, soups and custards.
6. Jambu (also known as rose apple or water apple)
Jambus, which are native to southeast Asia, have a thin, waxy skin, which is edible and turns pink as the fruit ripens. The flesh is divided into 4 sections, each with a single seed. The flesh is firm and white. Despite its name, it does not taste like an apple, but more like a juicy snow pear. The texture is crisp, almost crunchy when the fruit is ripe and freshly picked. Besides being eaten raw, the fruit is also used in salads, or made into jam or jelly with lemon juice added, or made into a syrup to be used as a sauce or to flavour cold drinks.
The duku, which is slightly larger than a golf ball, grows in clusters. It has a thin, leathery skin and is golden brown in colour. To eat it, just apply gentle pressure on the top of the fruit to split the skin, which makes it easier to peel the fruit. There are five segments of flesh inside the fruit.The flesh is translucent, sweet and juicy. (The taste is likened to that of a grapefruit.) Some segments may contain small, bitter seeds, which people do not usually eat.
8. Jackfruit (also known as nangka)
The jackfruit is a big prickly fruit, which can weigh over 80 pounds (36 kg).It contains a white central core surrounded by yellow fruit sections, each containing a light brown seed. The flesh has a crisp texture, with a strong sweet flavour. The seeds, which can range from 100-500 within a single fruit, can also be eaten after being boiled in salt water (which give them a sweet milky taste) or roasted. Besides being eaten raw, the fruit is also used in soups, main dishes, desserts, milk drinks, ice cream and fruit salads.
The heart-shaped or oval fruit, which originated in the West Indies) can weigh between 10 to 15 lbs (4.5-6.8 kg). The skin of the soursop is thin and remains green when the fruit is ripe. The white flesh is soft and studded with shiny black seeds. When ripe, the fruit is soft and easily damaged. Hence, it is usually transported and sold in the unripe state to prevent bruising. People usually eat it when the fruit begins to feel soft. The flesh is juicy and sour (due to its acidic nature). It is also used to make juices or processed desserts.
10. Ciku (also known as sapodilla)
This tropical fruit, which originated in the rainforests of Central America, has been likened to a soft, elongated brown egg or pear. Before eating, the ciku skin should be peeled . The flesh is sweet, soft and reddish-brown. The texture is gritty like a pear. Each segment of flesh contains a shiny black seed. Cikus are usually eaten just as they ripen, as unripe or overripe ones have an unpleasant taste.
The fruit is commercialised for its flavour in drinks and ice-creams. It is also cooked to make pies, syrups, sauces, jams and is fermented to get wine or vinegar. In Indonesia, the young shoots are eaten either raw or after steaming with rice.