Please wait a few seconds while we redirect you
to the new and improved House of Annie website at !

Monday, January 04, 2010

Rambutans, plus a Grow Your Own Announcement

Ew, it’s a hairy lychee!
Bowl of Rambutans
Well, kinda.
Rambutans are tree fruits which are close cousins to the lychee and the longan. Like a lychee, they are ovoid (egg) shaped, about 2 inches long, and have a hard, inedible seed at the center. But instead of the smooth skins of those two other fruits, rambutans have thin, fleshy spines growing out of them. These spines not sharp like a durian, but pliable like a dragonfruit. The spines are more like thick hairs. In fact, the name “rambutan” comes from the Malay word for hair, rambut.

Rambutans are native to Malaysia, and are grown all over Southast Asia as well as other tropical locales. Here in Sarawak, the rambutan trees are at the peak of production in December. When we took our road trip to see the fruits of Serian and beyond, we spied many rambutan trees growing wild by the side of the road, laden with fruit.

Roadside Rambutan Tree

rambutan tree
Over the New Year holiday, we were invited by one of our church friends to her house for dinner. As we were leaving, she stopped and handed us a bag of hand-picked rambutans. She said they were picked from her brother’s tree in Tebekang. They must have been picked quite recently, as the spines had not started to dry out and wither yet.

Fresh-Picked Rambutans

row of rambutans
Rambutans are best eaten fresh. If you don’t store them well, they start to spoil quickly. The good thing is, they’re easy to peel (and to eat!).
Here’s the easy way to open a rambutan:
1. Make a small slit in the fruit along its “equator”, halfway from either end. (You can use a paring knife, but I find a thumbnail works well enough.) Pinching the skin slightly, pry the two halves apart with your fingers.
peeling a rambutan 1
2. The rambutan skin should tear with ease, revealing the pearly, translucent fruit within.
peeling a rambutan 2
3. The fruit will come out very easily from the shell now. Pop the rambutan in your mouth, using your teeth to separate the sweet, succulent flesh from the woody seed.
peeling a rambutan 3
Try not to eat too many of them, as rambutans are thought to be a “heaty” food, causing you to develop a cough after eating a lot. So remember to drink lots of water afterward!
peeled rambutans

Announcing: Grow Your Own for January 2010

House of Annie is pleased to be hosting the Grow Your Own roundup event for the month of January, 2010! Grow Your Own was created by Andrea from Andrea’s Recipes to feature recipe blog posts containing ingredients that were either grown, raised, found or hunted by the poster.
We are an enthusiastic supporter of GYO, having submitted many entries, as well as hosting a round back in May of 2009. Back in October, Andrea announced that GYO would be taking a hiatus until Spring. She didn’t expect enough submissions to the roundups, with Winter coming to the Northern climates.
But I felt that we were leaving out all kinds of different posters, people who
  • live in Southern climates, where it’s Summer now
  • live in tropical or temperate climates, where the growing season does not end
  • have indoor container gardens
  • are cooking with ingredients preserved during Summer’s harvest
  • are even now foraging food in the cold of Winter
So I emailed Andrea, offering to host GYO during the Winter months, until she was ready to take up the reigns again in the Spring. Luckily for us, she happily agreed!
But now, I need your help. I’m looking for GYO entries. Do you Grow Your Own? Have you posted about it during the month of January? Read the complete rules on Andrea’s site. Then show off your post and submit it here:
Deadline is January 31, 2010.
Aloha, Nate


Pei-Lin said...

I'm sucker for rambutans!! Haha! Too bad, I can't grow any here ... No space for us in KL! LOL!

almadenmike said...

Love rambutans! Last time we were in Malaysia, the markets were loaded with pulasan (, which is like a tennis-ball sized rambutan (with short, blunt soft spines). I ate many, many, many without any deleterious "heaty" effects.

Andrea Meyers (Grow Your Own) said...

I had my first fresh rambutan while on a trip to Bali years ago. They really are delicious. Thanks for offering to help out with grow your own while I tend to some family matters in the next few months.

momgateway said...

Congrats Nate and Annie. I have an indoor garden so I will post a recipe for GYO. Thanks for hosting!

Tia said...

ooh i LOVE rambutans! (i'm from malaysia, moved to canada really young). these look sooo good.

Kim said...

I'm a big fan of Grow Your Own! I haven't posted something for January yet, but I will now - thanks for hosting! :-)

Single Guy Ben said...

I just tried mangosteen for the first time, now rambutans are next on my list! (Actually, I think I did try one in Vietnam.) I do like how they look, really mysterious and cool. And that's so nice to get it picked from a friend's home, that sounds so much like how it was growing up in Hawaii and neighbors giving us lychee! Oh, man, how I miss neighbors with lychee trees!

Doreen Seow said...

Dear House of Annie

You can get rid of the 'heatiness' of rambutan by soaking the peeled fruits in salt water and leave them in the fridge. It taste different too (salty and sweet).

yours deliciously said...

Love them chilled and when popped into the mouth..just heavenly!

Krissy @ The Food Addicts said...

Wow, rambutans! That is awesome. I'm from Vietnam and the few times I've visited my homeland, I've had the pleasure of eating fresh rambutans (which we call chom chom). I love the taste and texture of this fruit! I wish we can grow them here!

Lingzie said...

oh grow your own sounds like a great concept! and its great that you guys are hosting it! unfortunately i dont grow anything :( but looking forward to seeing the posts!

Soma said...

I have never had these, but if you say they are like lychee i am sold; don't mind the hairs :-D I miss lychee.. the canned ones don't count.

Happy New Year !

Carolyn Jung said...

How interesting that you could develop a cough from eating too many of them. I guess I'll never have to worry about that, though, since these are a luxury for me that are not always easy to find. You're lucky to live in a country abundant with them.

Deana Sidney said...

I have never seen a rambutan.. they are gorgeous...I wish I lived in a warm climate... below freezing today!

Indonesia Eats said...

Goshhh, this is what I miss from Indonesia.

Thou, rambutans are sold in Asian markets in Winnipeg. They still aren't as good as we have in South-East Asian.

Aaron said...

I am happy for you to include the pumpkin pudding recipe and to celebrate home grown products! The rambutans are really beautiful.

gardengabber said...

I've never heard of these before! they are certainly interesting! when you say they are heaty do you mean they are spicy? or are they sour or sweet?

Nate @ House of Annie said...

@all - thanks for your comments!

@Dodol & Mochi - at least you can get them pretty fresh at the fruit stands.

@Andrea - my pleasure! :-)

@momgateway - looking forward to it!

@Tia - thanks!

@Kim - hope to see your entry soon!

@SingleGuyBen - we used to have a neighbor in Kaimuki who had the sweetest lychee. Too bad he passed away. The person who moved in didn't know how to take care of the tree so it would produce more fruit.

@Doreen - interesting. Thanks for the advice!

@Krissy - I'm sure somebody must be trying to grow rambutans in Southern California.

@Lingzie - well, if a friend gives you some fruit from their tree, that counts too. Know anybody like that in Penang?

@Soma - agree, fresh is best!

@Carolyn - yes, very blessed.

@lostpastremembered - sorry to hear that :-(

@Indonesia-Eats - any fruit shipped thousands of miles is not going to taste the same.

@Aaron - thanks! And thanks for submitting your entry.

@gardengabber - the Chinese have a belief that certain foods are "heaty" while others are "cooling", kind of a "yin/yang" thing. It describes certain symptoms or reactions you get from taking too much of one thing and going out of balance. So the rambutan, while cool and sweet, can make you get a sore throat if you eat too much.

Mrs. L said...

What a wonderful looking thing those rambutans are! Very cool, though I've never seen them around this area.
As for the grow your own. I don't. But I just realized I have a big bag of meyer lemons from my Grams tree. Not sure I'll be able to make the 10th deadline but I can try!

Troy said...

Ive never seen such a fruit, I suddenly feel very naive.

What a wonderful world of food there is outside the tiny part of the world I have visited.

Thank you for visiting my blog, I would be honored to participate in your party!


Candi said...

Wow, I don't reckon I've ever seen that kind of fruit before. That's what happens when you are sucked into the Mega Mart Grocery store chains. You only get to see what they want you to. You know, when I see unusual fruit (and beautiful at that) I always wonder who ate it first. Was it a dare? Sort of like who ate the first chicken egg. Anyway, I look forward to this blog. We plan on growing our own garden vegetables this year. We had a little bit last year, but we planted too late.

Nate @ House of Annie said...

@Mrs L - the deadline is the 30th, so you have until then to submit for this month. If not, there's always next month!

@Troy - it's a wonderful world :-)

@Candi - I suppose there has to be one brave soul who decides that if it's good enough for the monkeys, it's good enough for humans.

The Speeding Turtle said...

Thank you for your post on my blog! I have sent in my submission for Grow Your Own.
I've tried lychees before, but not rambutans!

Kathleen said...

I was served rambutans once in Mexico, and thought they were a crazy litchi! Now I know what they were.
I love your blog.

Michelle said...

I am not sure about eating it, but it does make a nice centerpiece. I love to eat and decorate with fruit and veggies.

Thanks for inviting me over for the GYO this month.

Tuty said...

Haven't stopped by your blog for the past two weeks... and whoa... I missed all these.

My parents house had a rambutan tree and boy we always look forward to the mature fruit. Now that I am in the US, I am totally green with envy to see you guys with all types fresh tropical fruit.

Caveman Cooking said...

Hey Nate! Thank you for finding my blog and inviting me to enter the roundup. This entry doesn't have the recipe attached for the "homegrown" part. But, I will be posting it sometime this week. Anyway, here is the link to the post you suggested to enter:
Thanks, again!

Caveman Cooking said...

OOOOPS! Sorry, gave you the wrong link. This should be it:

Frog Mom said...

Rambutans are my favorite fruit. Thanks for showing a photo of a rambutan tree because I've never seen them on a tree before. Isn't the season almost over now? When I lived in Bangkok they were definitely a November-December fruit.

Thanks for the heads up on GYO. I'll try to put something together this weekend but I doubt it'll be much use to anyone if it's only foraged wild foods from the Bay Area. Talk about a microcosm.

persephone said...

I love litchi and while I've always thought litchi looked great, rambutans are out of this freakin' world!

For some reason it makes me think of the fruit the Morlocks would give to the Eloi to eat from HG Wells' novel "The Time Machine." <---lit nerd! (I was always obsessed with food in all novels... Brian Jacques' Redwall series feasts were always difficult for me)

Rajani@eatwritethink said...

my first time here! nice post:) i am mailing u my entry for GYO, don't know if it qualifies, do take a look.

Nate @ House of Annie said...

@The Speeding Turtle - welcome to our blog, and thanks for the submission! Hopefully one day you'll get to sample these fruits.

@Kathleen - I had the same thought. But the fruits are slightly different from lychee. I love them both. Thanks for the kind words!

@Michelle - go on, eat it, it's good. Look, even Mikey likes it! Hey Mikey! :-)

@Tuty - how wonderful to grow up with this tree in your backyard. Did it give you a lot of fruit?

@Caveman Cooking - by now, you'd have submitted using the link, so thanks!

@Frog Mom - thanks for your submission!

@Persephone - who knows if Rambutans would even be around in 802,701!

@Rajani - welcome! Sorry your post didn't quite qualify for GYO, but thanks for submitting.

Bev C said...

Hello Annie and Nate, thanks for inviting me to submit my recipes. I have just done a posting about it.
The recipes can be found here

Have a Happy day.

Thanks from Bev C

Kim said...

What a cool fruit! Thanks for sharing. I have never seen them before.

Kanawinkie said...

I love how rambutans look, and how the name just rolls of the tongue!

Thank you so much for inviting me to participate in GYO, Just submitted my entry!