I love finding unusual things to cook with. Well, Adrian works at Walmart so when an unusual fruit passed his register, he knew I would want to give it a try. Adrian even purchased the fruit and brought it home to me. Well, I went looking for recipes and let me tell you, there is not much out there. I created a couple recipes based on other things I like to make and managed to find a couple more to actually try out, but this column almost didn’t happen just because it was difficult to find something to use.
Rambutan is a tropical fruit native to Southeast Asia. The name comes from the Malay word rambut meaning ‘hair’. In Vietnam, they are called chôm chôm (meaning ‘head with raising hair’ according to a Google search) or Hairy Cherry. It grows on trees up to 80 feet tall in tropical climates like Indonesia. It is a gold ball sized fruit. The shell is red with green spikes and the fruit is a pale whitish color with a pit in the middle. The fruit has a sweet, creamy flavor to it.
Rambutan is rich in vitamins and nutrients. 3.5 ounces of fruit contain about 2 grams of fiber, about half of which is insoluble. The insoluble fiber aids in digestion and helps with regular bowel movements by bulking up your stool. The soluble fiber feeds your good gut bacteria and helps reduce inflammation in your intestines. Moreover, the soluble fiber in rambutan can dissolve in water and form a gel-like substance in your gut that helps slow down digestion and increase the absorption of nutrients. It can also lead to reduced appetite and greater feelings of fullness. At just 75 calories per 3.5 ounces, this can aid in weight loss without adding much to your calorie count.
This small fruit is also rich in Vitamin C. Not only does Vitamin C help with iron absorption, it acts as an antioxidant and protects your cells from damage. Vitamin C also helps in production of white blood cells and therefore boosts your immune system and helps fight infection. Eating just 6 rambutan will give you 50% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of this vitamin. Rambutan also contains a good amount of copper (about 20% RDI in 4 fruit), which plays a role in the proper growth and maintenance of various cells, including those of your bones, brain and heart.
To get to the flesh, make a cut all the way around the fruit about halfway. Gently squeeze each half and the fruit will pop right out. Place in water until ready to use to keep the fruit from drying out. Carefully cut in half lengthwise and remove seed. The seed is considered inedible but there is also evidence of toxicity when eaten. If eaten raw, it has narcotic and analgesic side effects and can lead to coma and death.
While there are not many recipes out there to try yourself, you can easily add this fruit to a salad or anything for added sweetness. Like all fruits, jams or smoothies are easy to make. Try a nice curry for something savory or make a tart or pie. Rambutan will only last a couple days on the counter, but up to 2 weeks if stored properly in the fridge. So, make room, keep cold and don’t peel them until you are ready to use them. One more thing, they are small in size so it takes a lot of them to do much of anything. I made small batches of everything so I would have enough fruit to make what I needed. Make your grocery list this weekend and meet me in the kitchen for easy recipes using this hairy fruit!
— Rambutan Sherbet
This is a small batch and will only make about 3 cups of sherbet. Feel free to double the recipe as needed.
2 cups rambutan, peeled, pitted and halved (this was 4 of the containers of fruit from Walmart) 1 cup heavy cream ¼-½ cup sugar, more or less to taste ½ tsp. ground cinnamon Place all ingredients in blender. Pulse to break up fruit then pulverize until fruit is all pulp and no chunks are left. Place in your ice cream maker and freeze according to the machine’s instructions. If you have no ice cream maker, you can place the sherbet in a freezer safe container for an hour. Stir well to ensure it’s freezing evenly. Then, stir every 30 minutes until frozen. Enjoy!
— Rambutan Jam
By the time this reduces down, there is only going to be enough for 1 small jar.
18oz rambutan, peeled, pitted and halved (two containers) 4.25oz water ¼-½ cup sugar, more or less to taste 1 cinnamon stick 2 Tbsps. lemon juice Place 2 metal spoons in freezer. In medium sauce pan, add fruit, water, ¼ cup sugar and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Once fruit softens, 10-15 minutes, use handheld blender to pulverize fruit. Taste mix and add more sugar now if desired. Boil for another 15 minutes. To see if jam is ready, drop some of the mixture onto the back of one of the spoons you had in the freezer. If the mix runs down the spoon, it’s not ready. If it stays in place while holding the spoon horizontally, the jam is ready. If jam is ready, add lemon juice and stir to combine. Cook another 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Allow to rest 7 minutes. Store in sterilized jar.
Recipe adapted from deliciouspath.com.
— Sparkling Rambutan Cocktail
This is enough for two drinks.
2oz gin 6 rambutan, peeled, pitted and halved, plus more for garnish if desired 1.25oz lime juice 1oz strawberry flavored drink syrup 1oz simple syrup-you can purchase simple syrup at Walmart or make it with sugar and water yourself 4-6oz sparkling wine or champagne Place rambutan and lime juice in blender. Puree until smooth and add to cocktail shaker. If you don’t want pulp, strain juice from blender before placing in shaker. Add gin and both syrups to shaker. Fill with ice and shake well. Pour into two chilled cocktail glasses and top with champagne. Garnish with additional rambutan if desired. Serve immediately.
Recipe from hungrycouplenyc.com.
— Rambutan Sugar Cookies
6 Tbsps. unsalted butter, softened 1 cup granulated sugar, plus ¼ cup white granulated sugar for rolling dough ¼ cup powdered sugar 1 egg, room temperature 2 tsps. pure vanilla extract 2 Tbsps. lemon juice 1¾ cup all-purpose flour 1½ tsps. baking powder 2 tsps. cornstarch ¼ tsp. salt ⅛ tsp. ground nutmeg ¼ cup chopped rambutan 1 cup dehydrated cereal marshmallows-I had to get these on Amazon, but yes you can buy nothing but the marshmallows In bowl of stand mixer, affixed with paddle attachment, add butter and sugars. Mix on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Mix until all ingredients are well combined. Change mixer to low and add flour, baking powder, cornstarch, salt and nutmeg. Remove bowl from mixer and use rubber spatula to scrape sides. Mix 1 minute more to ensure everything is thoroughly incorporated. Fold in rambutan and marshmallows. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator overnight. Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Use standard cookie scoop to scoop dough and shape into balls. Roll cookie dough balls in sugar and place dough balls a few inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Cookies will spread during baking. Bake cookies 12-14 minutes, or until edges start to turn light brown. Let cookies set on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to finish cooling completely.
Recipe adapted from kellylynnssweetsandtreats. com.