Year of the dragon(fruit). February 8, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in recipes, wit and wisdom.
Tags: dragonfruit, eating dragonfruit, Smaug, The Hobbit, Year of the Dragon
Silence Dogood here. We may be entering the Year of the Snake, but yesterday I felt that the Year of the Dragon was still very much with me. I discovered an oriental grocery while out shopping with a dear friend. Given that I live in the middle of Pennsylvania Dutch country, where the local cuisine chiefly derives from hearty German farmhouse fare (“Dutch” in this case derives from Deitsch, German, not Netherlands Dutch), I’m always excited to find any venue that offers an extensive selection of Indian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Middle Eastern, and other vegetarian-friendly foods.
This time, I hit the jackpot. My poor friend finally dragged me kicking and screaming from the store before I bought everything in it. I came away with some fabulous finds like Szechuan pepper oil, fermented red rice, and fried tofu. But the real highlight was the produce section. I loaded up on round green Thai eggplant, long purple Japanese eggplant, baby bok choi, super-fresh mung bean sprouts, okra, miniature mushrooms, garlic chives, baby shallots, cilantro, Thai basil, and long beans. Then I added an oriental persimmon and a dragon fruit.
Dragon fruit! I’d read about it, but never actually seen one. When I did, I was struck by how wildly gorgeous it is. The length and width of my palm, the heavy oval fruit had a ruby-red skin with overlapping “leaves.” Our friend Ben thought it looked terrifying, like an alien heart, but what it most reminded me of was the tuna, the beautiful red prickly pear cactus fruit beloved in Mexico, but in giant form.
Once I got it home, and before cutting into it, I wanted to learn more about dragon fruit, so I turned to my good friend Google, which led me to an extremely helpful article on About.com. I was very gratified to discover that the dragonfruit really is the fruit of a cactus: Score one for Silence! And I was surprised but pleased to learn that all you had to do to eat it was…to eat it.
The beautiful red skin isn’t edible. The author of the About.com article suggested slicing the dragonfruit in half lengthwise, scooping out the flesh and then cubing it (after making sure you’ve removed any trace of the colored skin). The flesh itself is white and filled with tiny black edible seeds; the author compared it to eating kiwifruit seeds.
She further suggested adding the cubed dragonfruit to a tropical fruit salad with papaya, mango, banana, starfruit, and so on, bathed in a dressing made from lime juice, canned coconut milk, and brown sugar or palm sugar. (What about kiwi?) Sadly, we’re trapped in the house expecting a major snowstorm to hit now, so the best I could do is a dragonfruit and persimmon fruit (and frozen mango, oh dear) salad (though I do have the lime juice, coconut, and brown sugar). But I think I’ll try the dragonfruit plain first, just to see what it tastes like.
I’m still in the dark about how people eat dragonfruit where it’s actually grown, but I think once I actually taste it I’ll have some ideas about how I’d like to eat it. Now the challenge is to get our friend Ben to try some…
If any of you are dragonfruit aficionados and have recipes to share, please let me know! I don’t know when I’ll be able to get back to the oriental grocery, so I’d really like to make the most of the dragonfruit I have. As a huge fan of The Hobbit, it seems only appropriate to me to enjoy a dragonfruit in the year that Smaug has made the big screen at last.
‘Til next time,