What’s small, red and hairy that you could squeeze in your hand?

Next to the dragon fruit, the rambutan is probably one of the locally-available fruits one will be hesitant to try. It’s hairy, like a tiny red porcupine (or other things less wholesome), and it’s not readily apparent how one should remove its skin.

The trick is to squeeze the fruit until the rind tears and the white flesh covering the seed is visible. Bern told me he follows the shallow groove running around the fruit so he could tear the skin along that line. Of course, one could also use a small knife to cut around the fruit (you could tell once the knife cuts through the skin completely) and lift the rind to expose the flesh.


Rambutan flesh has a similar appearance and texture as lychee, but with a milder flavor. It’s also pleasantly juicy. While its skin is fairly thick which does not readily expose the flesh inside, ants would still crawl towards ripe rambutan.

One time, Bern and I were eating rambutan our friend Wilma bought to us. She was joking that the rambutan has bought another colony of ants to her house because of the rather large insects crawling among the fruits.

A ripened rambutan will generally have a deep red color; some, however, remain pale red with visibly green hairs. While Bern and I tend to pick only the red fruits, Wilma told us that the fruit vendor claimed even the pale fruits are already ripe. While we thought fruit vendors are likely just making that up to sell more fruits, we decided to try the pale fruits anyways.

It turned out that the fruit vendor was right. While the red rambutan are a little bit sweeter, the pale fruits have thinner rinds and are fleshier.

Eating rambutan was a cherished childhood memory, just like eating other local fruits. So when I saw a fruit vendor selling rambutan earlier, I bought some for me and Bern for our late afternoon snack.

Poem: This Is Just To Say, by William Carlos Williams.


This Is Just To Say
by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Image source: Catch the Spoon.