Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Rambutan or Pulasan?

Rambutan at a Chiang Mai market, Thailand.
I am sure most travellers to South-East Asia have savoured the delightful rambutan. But have you tried pulasan? Rambutan are widely cultivated throughout the Asian tropics. However, it has only been in recent years that the wild pulasan has been cultivated on a commercial scale.

Pulasan near Batu Pahat, Malaysia
So what are the differences between these fruit cousins?

In general, the pulasan is a larger fruit, a deeper red in colour with soft, blunt spines. The pulasan can be opened by twisting the fruit with both hands, whereas the 'hairy' rambutan is normally opened with a sharp knife or picked at with a thumb nail: this can be an arduous task for the thumb nail!

And the taste? The pulasan is usually juicier and sweeter but can be a little more difficult to separate from its seed. On the other hand, rambutan normally part easily from the seed, are mildly sweet but give a little more 'crunch' than their less well-known counterpart.

The author's opinion? Rambutan, but pulasan is a satisfactory replacement. Now to complicate the issue, I believe that the yellow rambutan is the best of all these fruits. What is your opinion?

Red and yellow rambutan hanging at a fruit stall on the outskirts of Ipoh, Malaysia

If you are travelling in Malaysia in rambutan season - luckily there are two seasons, mid-year and again over December and January - you should try all three delicacies... 

A magnificent rambutan tree with ripening fruit
Wouldn't it be wonderful if these splendid fruit, and most beautiful trees, could be grown in temperate Sydney?

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