Asian fruit is currently taking the world by storm, in large part thanks to their versatility as ingredients in vegetarian and vegan recipes. Many of our customers are already familiar with jackfruit, whose neutral flavour and ‘pulled’ texture make it a central feature in many plant-based alternatives to traditional dishes that are heavy on meat.

In this blog, however, we look at the fruit of the rambutan tree and how it can be used in Asian cooking as well as both nutritious and naughty drinks.

What is rambutan?

Native to Asia’s Malay Peninsula and the surrounding archipelago, the English name for the fruit of the rambutan tree is derived from the Malay word “rambut”, meaning “hair”, which perfectly describes its distinctively furry exterior. It is closely related to various Asian fruits including the lychee, which has a similar interior. Meanwhile, the texture of rambutan fruit is grape-like and its flavour has notes of pineapple and cherry, with a slightly acidic sweetness.

Rich in vitamins A, B and C, it is also an excellent source of iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc and magnesium, as well as being low in calories.

According to traditional Asian medicine, the fruit can boost energy levels, relieve anaemia and keep the skin feeling young and supple.

How to cook with it

To use fresh rambutan, simply slice through the peel, then pull it back and pop out the fruit. However, peeled and pitted rambutan is also available canned in syrup.

This fruit is an essential ingredient in any Asian fruit salad, when combined with pineapple, Korean melon, mango dragon fruit and lychee. For more authenticity, why not add some fresh mint or basil as well as a sparing amount of finely chopped hot chillies to complement the sweetness?

When puréed, it can be used as an ingredient in smoothies and sorbets, while adding it to spicy curries will add balance to the heat.

Our favourite recipe ideas

Why not add rambutan to your favourite king prawn stir-fry dish? Cook your stir-fry in the usual way, then add the peeled and pitted fruit at the end.

For a different kind of Asian fruit salad, lightly poach some cored Chinese pears with rambutan, flaked almonds and brown sugar.

Freeze some peeled rambutan overnight for an ice-cold milky treat on a hot summer’s day. For deliciously nutritious smoothie, blend a handful of the fruit with coconut meat and a banana, along with milk, yoghurt or your preferred vegan alternative.

Last but not least, treat yourself to a mojito with an Asian spin by adding some puréed rambutan.

Where can I buy it?

Here, at Sing Kee Foods, we are pleased to sell AROY-D Rambutan in Syrup, as part of an impressive range of ingredients from across the Far East to suit all tastes and dietary requirements. We are especially proud of our ever-expanding vegan range. Check out our website today and get inspired!