We’ve talked about mangosteen, rambutan, and mangos before… Now let’s talk jackfruit!
Jackfruit is a very strange looking but tasty fruit. It seems to grow pretty wild in Indonesia (though I remember seeing them all over the place in Thailand too), making trees look like they have large, spiky, cancerous growths hanging from them.
But thankfully someone had the guts to open one of these and discover the delicious yellow pods inside. Don’t mistake these for durians, which are also spiky on the outside. The durian fruit is really stinky, banned in many public places, and tastes very distinct (Death and dirty socks? Yum!). Jackfruit on the other hand has an interesting flavor, familiar, but unique. Maybe a cross between a pineapple and mango?
I had been craving jackfruit for over a month and haven’t been able to find it in any stores. So yesterday at the traditional market I bought a quarter of one for a dollar. Today I cracked into it and started carving out the pods.
Tips: Use a sharp knife and pre-coat your fingers in oil to prevent the inner peals from sticking all over you. The stickiness doesn’t wash off with soap and water! (Picture me turning to my pembantu this afternoon, hands sticky to high hell shouting “help me!!!” And her laughing.) Once you remove and wash the pods, you can eat the fruit. Discard the pits as you go.
I’ve mentioned exotic fruits here before, such as how to cut mangos and where to buy rambutan. But today I’d like to introduce you to the mangosteen.
The shell is usually dark purple, almost black, and is very hard. Once you cut it open, a white soft fleshy ball can be found inside. The flesh is extremely soft and juicy and tastes so unique. I honestly can’t think of another similar taste, but it is wonderful.
The only real drawbacks is the inconvenience of having to cut it open and the difficulty of getting a ripe one (my luck usually finds me overripe fruit here). But today my friends, behold the perfectly ripe mangosteen. I highly recommend you try one!
Shoot back a Nescafé after dinner and find a 10 year old babysitter to watch your kid, cause we’re going to the traditional market. It starts at 10:00pm.
Every exotic fruit and vegetable you can think of. Salted fish, tofu and chicken carcasses line the street. Merchants lay next to their goods and passively sell you a kilo of cucumbers for 5,000 rupiah. That’s about 6 fresh organic cucumbers for $.50, my friend.
We walked away with a kilo of cucumbers, carrots, celery, onions, mangos, some “sweet cucumber” surprise, and a watermelon for Elles. All for about $5 total. Pretty rad.
So, in the last month, we have discovered some new fruit flavors that we are integrating into our diet. One of these that I covet like youth and beauty is the Mango. I have been a mango observer most of my life. Every so often, I find that I’ll eat the mango and sticky rice for a Thai dessert. I didn’t know I was going to get Mango blindsided once here. Its been a bloodbath. <<I CAN HAVE THE MANGO!>>
Locally, there are 16 cultivars of the simple Mangga (as it is locally known in Indonesian), ranging from the Manis (super sweet) to the wonderful Ataulfo, the yellow “fiber free” (you have no idea how important this is until you have them a staple of your diet) and highly flavorful one, that. Mango season is three times a year and a month at a time, so when it comes on, you gotta get in on that. I can get them for about $.50 each, I can eat about two a day, but the most important thing is learning to cut them, else you are not fully enjoying the experience. But once in the know, everything changes.
Here’s your protip, given to me by a real professional: Look at it from the stem side. Imagine there is a seed in the middle there, and the shape of the fruit is oriented around it (of course). The seed is one little orb, a small disc of frustration. Place two cuts on the mangos’ skinnier sides to extract the most edible bits and place these off to the side. Secretly, in the dark recess of the kitchen, do a vampire routine and eat around the seed, so as to get as much of the tender flesh as you can to yourself, making as little noise as possible as you don’t need the attention to your vulgar act. Clean yourself up, you filthy animal…
Take the cut sides, cup the skin side in your hand and then put in some grids with a butter knife through the flesh but not through the skin, then just invert this bitch, literally turning it inside out and you have this professional looking execution like so:
I eat it right off the skin. – Seth