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

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My Photo Annie is mistress of the kitchen while Nate is the master of the grill and smoker. We cook the homestyle Asian and Hawaiian foods of our younger days while also exploring the wider worlds of Western foods.

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