Have you ever had fruits from Asia? When I first moved to Florida after living in a small town in New Jersey for twenty one years, I was surprised to find so many different types of fruits in the grocery stores of Orlando. There were so many colors and shapes and names I could only attempt to pronounce, it almost felt as if I had left the country!
No matter where in the world you come from, chances are high that you have had your fair share of fruit throughout your life, but if you are like me and have not had the chance to explore past the common banana or strawberry, then the following list of 25 weird and exotic fruits from Asia you’ve probably never heard of is going to be quite the adventure for you!
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This tiny fruit is found mostly in Malaysia, and only recently made its way into Hawaii. Similar in taste to a bittersweet grapefruit, the langsat is sectioned like an orange and must be husked from its tough outer skin. Their bitter, inedible seeds have actually been shown to be able to kill malaria, with an anti-pathogenic compound that interrupts the life-cycle of the malaria pathogen.
Also known as pitaya, the dragon fruit is actually of the cactus family and found in Southeast Asia. The flavor is light and sweet, with the consistency of a kiwi. Dragon fruit are loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients, boosting the immune system, reducing risk of of respiratory problems, and alleviating heart problems. The only down side to this delicious fruit is the its high fructose levels, so if sugar is an issue for you, be sure to enjoy this fruit in moderation.
Breadfruit finds its roots in Southeast Asia, but it is grown and enjoyed all over the world for its bread-like consistency and flavor. In can be mashed or sauteed, baked in banana leaves, or added to a spicy curry. Breadfruit is even candied, pickled, and cut into strips to make breadfruit French fries. The leftover pulp can even be recycled to make paper.
The tinniest member of the citrus family, kumquats grow in bunches and are ready to eat plucked right off the tree. They are native to southeast China, but are found all across Asia today. The peel, as well as the inside flesh, is full of vitamins and minerals. Kumquats possess anti-viral and anti-cancer properties, act as co-factors for metabolizing protein, fats, and carbohydrates, and even balance insulin and glucose levels in the body.
Rarely found outside of Malaysia, the pulasan is easily confused with its cousins the rambutan and lychee. Pulasan are much sweeter with shorter, thicker spines on its outside skin. They are high in vitamin C and antioxidants, and are even used to manage blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.