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Ingredient Spotlight: Exotic Fruits

Step out of your comfort zone and discover the flavor possibilities of exotic fruit.


Perfectly cooked steak and eggs? You might expect that from sous vide, but what about an amazingly flavorful passion fruit dish? Exotic ingredients like these are scrumptious in simple preparations aimed at enhancing flavors and celebrating vibrant colors and alien exteriors. Some of these warm-weather fruits are mild and custard-esque while others are seedy and tangy, but they’ll all work well with sous vide. And don’t worry—even the dragon fruit won’t bite.

exotic fruit with seeds

Don’t worry about the rambutan’s spiny skin (these barbs are actually soft), but prepare for a deluge of sticky juice that rushes out as you peel it back. Inside, you’ll find a large seed surrounded by white flesh—similar to a lychee—and a distinctly flowery flavor.

Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, is more ostentatious in its appearance than in its taste, which is somewhere between a berry, kiwi, and pear. Its sweet flavor lends itself to myriad desserts, which may be why it has inspired another moniker: the strawberry pear.

Although New Zealand growers are to thank for the name—a nod to the country’s fuzzy Kiwi birds—this fruit originated in China. Inside the brown peel is a slick green flesh dotted with tiny seeds. It boasts an acidic flavor that smacks of strawberry.

This fruit may look like Frankenstein’s take on a lemon, but the citron relative has no juice, pulp, or seeds. The mild pith makes it perfect for zesting or using whole—the sweet lemon-lavender scent is a big draw.

More than 100 varieties of guava grow between South America and California, but Mexican guavas are definite standouts. These kiwi-sized guavas have creamy, white pulp—not the signature pink of other varieties—and an intriguing sweet-and-sour flavor.

Think of the pomelo as the grapefruit’s hulking cousin. This citrus fruit is larger, less bitter, and has a thicker pith. The vitamin C–rich pomelo grows wild in Fiji and Malaysia.

The plump, white flesh of the mangosteen sharply contrasts with its deep red pith and purple-ish peel. Experts are still investigating its full health-boosting potential, but mangosteen’s antioxidants have been shown to fight inflammation—and it tastes like pineapple, too.

Carambola—nicknamed star fruit for its five-pointed shape when sliced—features a sweet-tart flavor when ripe. Enjoy this appealing fruit eaten raw, pickled and preserved, or used as a beautiful garnish on a drink.

This aromatic Asian citrus has a bumpy rind, which is often used as an ingredient itself, and a distinctive flavor that falls somewhere between a lime and a Mandarin orange. Yuzu is the key ingredient in ponzu, an all-purpose vinaigrette in Japanese cuisine.

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