Apples, bananas, oranges. These are familiar fruits to anyone perusing a typical American grocery store. Have you ever heard of exotic fruits including the lychee, pomelo, persimmon, and durian? 

They are fruits, many of them found in Southeast Asia, but also often at Asian food stores here in the U.S. Some are furry, some are fuchsia, and some have bright white flesh. They’re delicious and they’re beautiful and you should get to know them before making a trip out to find them for yourself.

1. Rambutan

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Don’t worry, these fruits won’t hurt you with those spiky-looking hairs. In fact, rambutan fruits are also called "chôm chôm," which translates to "messy hair" in Vietnamese. This stunning fruit has a flavor and texture similar to lychee, with a soft and juicy pale interior. Some describe the taste as similar to a grape. Easy to eat a bunch at a time, just peel away the thin outer layer to get to the good stuff inside. 

2. Durian

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What’s that smell? Oh, it’s just your average durian with its uniquely pungent scent. Some find the smell intoxicating, while others flee the scene the moment a durian appears. Figure out who you agree with by trying a bite (or two) of its custardy, creamy flesh. For those who are seeking an alternative way to try durian, it’s delicious in desserts like durian ice cream.

3. Mangosteen

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Mangosteens have a flavor that’s a combination of tangy and sweet, unlike any other fruit. The snow-white flesh requires some effort to reach through the tough outer skin, but that flavor is well worth the exertion. You’ll find yourself falling in love with the fruit pretty quickly, but that’s okay because the health benefits of mangosteen go on and on. 

4. Longan

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Superfood alert! Like the rambutan, the longan resembles the lychee with its translucent and juicy interior. It grows in grape-like clusters, which means you’re expected to eat a whole bunch at a time. Yay!

5. Persimmon

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Although it may look like a tomato, the flavor of a persimmon couldn’t be more different. Its sweet and firm flesh is sure to please everyone. Simply slice it up and enjoy, or let the fruit ripen until it’s soft and develops a deeper sweetness, almost reminiscent of cantaloupe.

6. Sapodilla

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Unassuming on the outside, the sapodilla packs a sugary punch with its extremely sweet, sunset-colored interior. Native to Central America, they have the flavor of a caramelized pear, which means it can basically be dessert if you’re looking to brag and say you had fruit for dessert.

7. Jackfruit

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This huge fruit is one of the most versatile, and good for both savory and sweet preparations. Often compared to the banana, jackfruit is also seen on store shelves as a meat alternative for vegans and vegetarians. You can try out these cool recipes for yourself. 

8. Dragon Fruit

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Another stunning part of the fruit kingdom, dragon fruit is surprisingly subtle in flavor. It's a little sweet, a little sour, and reminiscent of a kiwi. It’s easy to love and is delicious on top of a fruit bowl or in a smoothie. Fun fact: it’s the national fruit of Vietnam.

9. Star Fruit

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This is worth eating just because it looks exactly like a star when sliced. Star fruit also happens to be tasty and subtle, with flavors reminiscent of citrus fruit and plums, you can pop the whole thing into your mouth: seeds, skin, and all.

10. Passion Fruit

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Bursting with a flavor that is amazingly tart and sweet, passion fruit is a hidden gem that should become a pantry staple. Easily converted into a component for both desserts and savory dishes, it brings a refreshing zing to any recipe. Also, let’s not forget the amazing boozy concoctions that feature this little wonder.

11. Pomelo

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Imagine the biggest grapefruit you’ve ever seen and then imagine it seven times bigger. Now you have a pomelo, often weighing two-four pounds. Once you get through the thick outer layer, you’re rewarded with big and juicy citrus segments that will convince you that the pomelo is the best citrus fruit you can buy.

12. Guava

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Meet the replacement for the apple: guava. Mildly sweet and incredibly refreshing, it can be easily sliced up and enjoyed on its own or added to salads and other dishes raw. Bring a touch of the exotic into your life and bring guava to class or work as a snack; your new friends will be totally impressed.

13. Kumquat

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I have a very hard time containing my excitement when I see kumquats seasonally appear on supermarket shelves. They’re bite-sized citrus wonders that are tarter than their bigger relatives and have a secret... their peel is edible! It kind of tastes like you’re eating an orange peel, but it's sweeter and more tender. Either way, it’s still exciting to just pop a whole kumquat in your mouth and not have to concern yourself with pesky peeling.

14. Tamarind

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With a flavor that’s a balance of tangy, sour, and sweet, tamarind is the basic building block for much of Southeast Asian and Indian cuisine. If you’ve ever wondered what that sweet and tart brown sauce on your table at an Indian restaurant is, there’s a good chance it’s a tamarind chutney. Buy it fresh and soak it in water, use pre-made tamarind paste, or get tamarind concentrate; all will work for dishes calling for this intriguing ingredient.

15. Water Apple

Also known as bell fruit and rose apple, the water apple is actually a berry. This pear-shaped anomaly is reminiscent of watermelon, with a high water content that results in a crisp and refreshing flavor. More portable and less messy, consider bringing these exotic fruits instead of that heavy watermelon on your next picnic.

More fruit, more fun. More nutrient-rich articles below:

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