Adventures in Produce: Rambutan

Instead of packing a banana today for little Billy’s lunch, imagine packing one of these bad boys instead:

While the Rambutan may look rather strange to us Westerners, it’s actually a very common fruit in many parts of Asia, including the Philippines.

And of course when I spied it at the Asian market last weekend, it called out to me. “Take me home…eat me….blog about me…”

So today’s pick for Adventures in Produce is the rambutan.

I was extremely curious how to eat this, so I consulted my favorite source of knowledge. Google.

Turns out you cut the outside shell most of the way around, and then pop it off.

What you’ll find inside is a juicy, egg-shaped fruit with a big nut in the middle. You just pop it out of the shell to eat it. From there, remove the seed. I found you could either do this but cutting the fruit away with a sharp knife, or just eating around the seed.

This fruit reminded me very much of a sweet, delicious grape. It was very good! If you’ve ever had a lychee, it tasted very similar.

My only issue? It was a lot of work for just a little bit of fruit! I would’ve loved to have chomped into a bigger piece without getting a seed in the way. The next time I make my way to an Asian market, I’d be curious to see if they don’t sell these pitted and canned.

While I just ate mine whole as a fruit, there is no shortage of yummy sounding recipes on the web. Some that I might be interested to try:

Rambutan, Pineapple and Tofu Curry

Savory Stuffed Rambutan

and wash it all down with a Rambutan Martini

Have you ever tried Rambutan? What did you think?


  1. mona says

    Just showed the pic to my kids and at first they said gross but then when I said the inside tasted like grape they were all for it! Guess we will pick up one next time we r at HMart. Love these posts by the Way!

    • arussell says

      Just a heads-up, I don’t know if this item is sold at H Mart or not. I picked it up at Uwijimaya in Seattle. 😉 You might want to call ahead.

  2. says

    I just wanted to leave a quick note that the Proctor Farmer’s Market is open this Saturday. A bit of a jaunt for you, but I thought some of your readers might be inspired to try some of the scarier looking local, fresh things! I totally predict a spike in rambutan sales!

  3. Tess says

    A friend I visited in S. Korea while she was working there recently returned home then bought me some of this for my 50th birthday from Uwajimaya in Seattle. It is canned and stuffed with pineapple. I guess it is time for me to try it now!

    • arussell says

      I was JUST going to ask!! I think they would be DELICIOUS freeze dried! Hmmmm. I think I will pay a trip there later today since I’ll be in the area! THANKS! I’m guessing this would be near the dried fruit section?

  4. Celina Green says

    Ate lots of these fresh from the tree in Costa Rica. I took me a while to get over the slightly slimy texture (kind of like a peeled grape) and the fact that they reminded me of eyeballs. But once I got over those things I enjoyed them a lot!

  5. Tiffany says

    Lol this reminds me of the fruit on Men in Black. How awesome and strange, wonder if I could get my clan to give it a go :0)

  6. joey says

    i love rambutans! i am from singapore and we eat this ALOT! U can find them canned in most asian stores here in US and definitely yes to Rambutan Martini! :)

    • arussell says

      I haven’t, but if memory serves me correctly, this is one fruit I’ve read about in my research on exotic produce! Maybe I should add it to the list!

  7. JoAnne says

    Just showed the pic to my kids and the look on their faces where hilarious! My son made all sorts of weird sounds. Told them I’d put one in their lunch boxes! I’m going to see if they have ’em at HMart and maybe the kids will have a surprise for lunch one day at school! LOL!

    • arussell says

      OK you may want to call though. I got these at Iwijimaya. That being said, H Mart has a plethera of fun & strange eats in the produce dept! Good luck!

  8. janine says

    Hello! I grew up in the Philippines and we have two huge Rambutan trees in our backyard.. I loved the rainy months which is about the same time they are in season.. I miss home! Nice post, reminded me of my childhood.. I have always enjoyed picking them straight from the trees.. some trees don’t really grow too tall and because they are heavy (due to the seed) the branches with fruits just fall or are within reach. I love this fruit! Very tasty, but beware, they can be tart if picked to early. mmmm..

    BTW, you can squeeze crosswise, in the middle to crack it open. It should not be hard if fruit is just about right. Be careful and watch your eyes as it is very juicy.


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