One of the great delights when visiting any tropical country like Vietnam is that you get to try and taste different exotic fruits. As usual, travelers will stay with the common fruits, but it would be adventurous to explore some of the more unusual Vietnamese fruits.
More than half of the Vietnamese fruit comes from the Mekong Delta, hence the distinctive tropical characteristics. Fruits coming from colder climates are usually harvested from Dalat and other mountainous areas in the Central and Northern regions. Since fruits in Vietnam are abundant and fairly cheap, the Vietnamese are very creative when it comes to enjoying nature’s delicacy. Some prefer enjoying the fresh taste as it is, some like to dip the sour or unripe ones in chilly and salt or salt and pepper. Aside from healthy smoothies and juices, Vietnamese fruits can also be made into savory main dishes, tea, jam, or even alcohol!
When you visit Vietnam, here are the Vietnamese fruits you should try
Vietnamese Fruits with Seeds and Pips
Often grown together in a bundle, the exterior colors of the rambutans vary from red, yellow, or yellow-orange. As a native fruit to tropical countries, the outer spines of the rambutans are often referred to as “messy hair.” Its flesh maybe sticks a bit in the seed, some not. It is white, thick and has a good fragrance, and a little sour. In addition, a ripened rambutan season often lasts from June to August to harvest. This is one of the Vietnamese fruits you should try when in Vietnam.
Sweetsop and durian
Originated from the Americas, the custard apple is grown in many tropical countries. The bumpy green skin covers the white flesh and hard black pips. The taste is sweet and floral, promising a unique and satisfying mouthfeel. As a delicious fruit with a market price of around VND 60,000/kg, it is a good source of Vitamin C and B.
Soursop is not only known as a tropical fruit with a sweet and sour taste, but it is also a sort of nutrient involving a variety of valuable medicines. Therefore, it boosts the immune system and helps to prevent cancer.
The mangosteen is regarded as one of the most delicious fruits in the world. As a “superfruit,” it comes with a vast array of health benefits due to the richness of nutrients and antioxidants. The soft and sweet center has a sweet and acidic flavor that is balanced beautifully wrapped in the outer purple skin. We recommend trying this fruit on your trip to Vietnam.
Despite the shiny, soft round brown peel, longan has a fresh and fleshy pulp inside. The pulp is succulent, pure sweet, and has a special aroma. Every year, the farmers pick all ripened longans in July and August. This is one of the sweet tropical fruits to try.
Longans and mangosteens
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The lychee is one of the popular fruits in Vietnam, particularly at the beginning of summer. Its skin is dark red and easy to peel by hand. The juicy white center has a lot of vitamin C and natural sweetness; it can be served raw or making a cool beverage by adding sugar syrup with other fruits like mango or dragon fruit.
The culinary uses of persimmons are abundant; they can be eaten fresh, dried, raw, or cooked. This fruit’s flesh ranges from firm to soft, but the texture is unique. With a golden yellow color and smooth outer skin, the persimmon is packed with health-promoting benefits. Try to spot one of these on your trip to Vietnam in the local markets.
Jackfruit is one of the most popular fruits in Vietnam. In spite of the spiky crust and the large shape, the sweet taste and the amazing smell often attract people who have a sweet tooth. Inside, there are lots of fleshy yellow knots covering all the seeds of the fruit when peeled. However, its latex is sticky, so remember to use a towel or glove to separate the outer of the fruit and take the knots out. Moreover, jackfruits also abound many kinds of nutrition for health and preventing diseases. If you want to enjoy tropical fruits in Vietnam, you wouldn’t want to skip this fruit.
Known as the “stinky fruit,” the durian has a remarkable characteristic of tasting like heaven but smelling like hell. As a popular fruit in Vietnam, it is sweet, and the aroma is distinctive and often repulsive. The hard and spiny outer skin makes the durian instantly recognizable. For about VND 70,000/kg, the durian is one of the Vietnamese fruits you should try when in Vietnam.
One of the most versatile fruits available, this fruit is best suited to Vietnam’s tropical climate. It is grown mostly in the Central and Southern provinces like Dalat. At around VND 40,000/kg, the eating choices are endless. The avocado makes a good source of antioxidants, potassium, and unsaturated fats.
This truly delicious fruit is rarely seen in Western countries. It is shaped like an egg with a thin outer brown skin. Grown primarily in the North of Vietnam, this distinctive fruit tastes like a blend of apple, peach, and banana. Available all year round, you can find this fruit at the local markets for VND 30,000 – 40,000/kg.
Guava is famous in many parts of the world for its refreshing juice. But in Vietnam, you can enjoy guava raw by simply cutting them into small long pieces and serving them with salt and pepper. Many people in Vietnam eat the skin and the seed of guava as well. The white peach center has a slight fragrance and sour-sweetness that goes well with the salty taste. It is one of the most popular fruits in Vietnam that can be enjoyed as a healthy snack.
The papaya’s flesh is light yellow when ripened. There are a lot of black or brown seeds in the center of the fruit. Scoop out all the seeds, and you should be able to enjoy them fresh as desserts. Papaya is so popular and has essential nutrients for kids and adults’ diets because of its soft pulp. Furthermore, in Vietnam, green papaya can be used as a vegetable to make stew soup, pickle, and the delicious goi du du.
If you’re interested, here’s How to Grow Your Own Papaya.
Java apple is another refreshing choice for the summer. You may find two common types of java apples in Vietnam’s markets: red/pink skin and green skin (the latter usually have a smaller size but taste sweeter). The java apple can be made into jam or added to drinks, but like other fruits in Vietnam, it is mostly eaten raw with salt and pepper.
This sour and sweet fruit is commonly used as a spice in Vietnamese cooking to make a sour-tasting soup and a special dipping sauce for grilled dishes and fresh fruits. Its soft flesh can also be used to make Worcestershire sauce, jam, drink or sprinkled with sugar to make candy.
There are five segments to the fruit, so when cutting it, you may find it a bit like a five-pointed star. Its skin is thin, soft, shiny, and turns into dark yellow when ripens. The inside will turn from white and green to yellow when ripens and taste a little sour. They are mostly used with cucumber as an ingredient in a fresh roll like the spring roll. When in Vietnam, don’t forget to try these Vietnamese foods.
Star Apple/Caimito/Milk fruit
Star apple or milk fruit got its name for its juicy, sweet, soft, and white center like milk. It is grown in many places in Mekong Delta such as Tien Giang, Ben Tre, and Vinh Long. You can enjoy it raw by cutting in half and scooped out the flesh with a spoon as a dessert. The market will be flooded with star apple from October to December. This is one of the popular fruits in Vietnam that you must try.
Vietnamese mangoes vary and colors, sizes, and tastes
Vietnam’s tropical climate is best to grow mangoes. With a large variety of mangoes available, they are abundant from February to May in the South and May to September in the North. Prices range between VND 20,000 – 55,000/kg during the peak periods and out of season.
Watermelons are especially popular during Tet seasons (Vietnamese New Year)
Known as a juicy fruit in tropical areas, commonly, it has a thick green outer and fleshy red pulp inside. In Vietnam, there are seedless watermelons and yellow watermelons (the inside is yellow) as well. It can be made into a fresh yummy smoothie for your thirst in summer or simple desserts in daily meals of the Vietnamese. You can also find a pair of watermelon on the altar in a Vietnamese family during the Tet holiday.
Have you seen an orange that is not orange? The skin color of orange in Vietnam when it is ripe stays green or light green. There are also two types of them: “cam xoan” and “cam sanh.” “cam xoan” is usually sectioned and cannot be juiced. The best time to enjoy them is at the beginning of the summer. Its inside has a light yellow color like champagne and tastes a little sweet. On the other hand, “cam sanh” has more juice, darker color, and a more sour taste. The juice is high in vitamin C and is used as a cold remedy drink. You can easily find them at any local market in Vietnam at the end and the beginning of a year.
Tangerine in Vietnam has a light green color, a bit more sour and large compared to those from China. Its skin is easily peeled off and could be dried in the sun to make a mosquito repellent. The inside of a tangerine has around 10 juicy sections with a thin film covering each section. They are soft and feel a bit like small jelly. The fruit can be served raw or used to make delicious jams. Tangerine in Vietnam tastes best from September to March.
There are two kinds of grapes: red and white. One of the things to distinguish the two types is the flavor; the red is a bit honeyed, the white is sour. Some like peeling the outer skin, but you can eat directly without taking the skin out. Depending on your favorite style, the grape can be processed into a luscious smoothie to drink or eaten fresh.
Oriental pear or Asian pear is different than European pear for its high water content, crispiness, and grainy texture. Its skin usually has a yellow color with small dark spots. When peeled off the skin and remove the core, the white pulp can be served raw. It is also used when marinating meat as a sweetener.
Ambarella has a hairy hardcore inside; after removing this core, you can enjoy them raw or salt and pepper/chili mix. The crunchy, sour and a bit sweet center will go really well with a bit of saltiness and heat in the sauce and mix. It can also be soaked in sugar and saltwater to make a refreshing pickle sometimes at the end of the year. Fresh ambarella leaves are often paired together with other herbs to enhance the flavors of Vietnamese food.
Langsat is a small round-shaped fruit with velvet-felt yellow skin that can be easily peeled by hand. You should peel the langsat from the bottom (the opposite side of its stem) and enjoy the juicy, sweet, and sour flesh inside. The inside has around four to five sections; each section has seed sticking to the flesh which sometimes can make the flesh a little bitter. The best time to have langsat is at the beginning of summer.
Barbados cherry has a bright red color on the outside and light orange on the inside. Its taste is sour which goes well with the taste of salt and pepper/chili mix. They are grown and harvested all year round so you can enjoy them fresh or put it in your cocktail any time.
The outside of a peach when ripens is thin with pink-orange color and a velvet feel. The inside has light orange color, a bit firm and sour taste than those from China. They can be peeled and served raw, put in a drink like tea, or soaked in sugar water to make candied peach. It is best to enjoy them in the summer with a refreshing beverage.
Vietnamese Fruits without Seeds or Pips or with Edible Ones
The coconut is one of the tropical fruits that have more water than its flesh inside. Cutting its hard green outer, you will have a pouring delicious fresh drink before getting to enjoy the softly sweet, tasteful meat. It is one of the best fruits in Vietnam to enjoy during the hot summer. Besides, they are sold in almost all Vietnamese locals markets and only cost you about VND 10,000 – 15,000/fruit. All of the parts of the fruit have a variety of uses in cooking such as stewing meat with juice instead of water, braised pork (thit kho trung) making a smoothie, and sweetening the soup. Ben Tre is a “coconut paradise” with the traditional special treat, coconut candy, there was even a time when a religion was established based on this fruit specialty of the area, the relics of which you can still visit when in Ben Tre.
Nipa Palm/Mangrove Palm
Nipa palm often wildly grows copiously along the banks of many rivers in the Mekong Delta areas. The flesh inside is white with a greasy and syrupy taste. Every bunch of nipa palms in the shape of a spiky ball you see is a combination of small nipa palms with the size of an egg. After taking the nipa palm from its bunch, we use a knife to separate it into two and take a spoon to enjoy the flesh inside. You can also make a refreshing drink by adding sugar syrup into iced water and put a peeled nipa palm in that mix. Other parts of the tree are also used in many ways such as its leaves which are used to build the roof of houses in the countryside or to make a leaf-woven basket.
Red dragon fruit can be used to make attractive natural colors for pastries
The dragon fruit is a species of the cactus and grown primarily in the Southern region of Vietnam and particularly in Phan Thiet. To hasten and enhance the growing process, producers use halogen lights to expose the plants for 24 hours. As a sweet, tasty, and refreshing fruit, this is widely popular and available in Vietnam for a price of VND 30,000/kg. This is one of the Vietnamese fruits you should try when in Vietnam.
Banana is one of the popular fruits in Vietnam in a daily diet, like in many parts of the world. However, a diversity of bananas just can be found in tropical countries like Vietnam. They are all different in size, color, and taste but all are delicious and healthy. With its distinctive scent, soft pulp, and high in nutrients, banana is an excellent choice of fruits for people in any age group.
This sweet and juicy fruit is good on its own or in fruits salad. As a good source of Vitamin C, like all citrus fruits, it is thought to reduce blood pressure if eaten regularly. With a market price of VND 70,000/kg, try this Vietnamese fruit chilled or at room temperature.
With round red-orange outer, this fruit looks like an onion, but bigger. Its flavor is a bit sour, the fruit combined with lots of fleshy segments covering little seeds inside. Moreover, if you eat it raw or make a drink from this nutritious fruit, your skin may find a bit of benefit from its antioxidants.
Buddha’s Hand/Fingered Citron
Buddha’s hand is a kind of citron with a unique shape that looks like many fingers are closing in. They have a strong fresh fragrance with yellow skin when ripe at the end of summer. Unlike most fruits and citron, in Vietnam, the fingered citron is usually not eaten raw. It is mostly used to make scented alcohol or jam and to serve as an offering to the Buddha.
Vietnamese Fruits in Daily Life
Vietnamese like to put fruits on the altars with the belief that their deceased family members or the Gods can enjoy these offerings
Diced fruits with shaved ice, yogurt, and syrup is a refreshing street food
You can easily find Vietnamese fruits for a fairly low price at local markets, as well as supermarkets and fruit shops, or better yet, go straight to where these fruits originally come from at the Fruits Orchards in the Mekong Delta.
Summary of the Vietnamese Fruits You Should Try When in Vietnam
The diversity of tropical fruits in Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam is an exciting experience which you should not miss when visiting the local markets. Along with the friendly locals, historical sites, and thousands of years of culture, you may find these fruits in Vietnam another remarkable memory in your journey to the East.
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