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Asian cuisine is full of mind-boggling flavors and textures, and exotic Asian fruits very much play a big part in the uniqueness of Asian cuisine.
Asian fruits are an eclectic collection of vibrant colors, striking rinds, and a dazzling array of flavors that soothe, thrill, refresh, and surprise.
Trying new foods is one of the best things you can do in Asia. With so many street vendors and food markets, you’re never far from exotic new tastes and dishes.
So let’s put 30 of Asia’s most mind-blowing and mouthwatering fruits under the microscope, learn about their taste and texture, and hopefully inspire you to try some when you next visit.
Also known as ‘dragon fruit’, pitaya is a type of cactus. Red pitaya has both a bright, pink-red colored skin and flesh, with green-tipped soft spikes covering the skin.
You can also find two other types of pitaya in Asia. White pitaya has red skin and white flesh, while yellow pitaya has yellow skin and white flesh.
The spikes resemble a dragon’s scales, hence the name. Pitaya’s skin can’t be eaten, but the flesh can.
Pitaya’s taste is very similar to a pear or kiwi fruit. It’s not particularly sweet, but definitely more sweet than it is sour.
The flesh is soft and juicy, and you’ll often see it at Asian food markets and in smoothie bowls.
While snake fruit’s reddish-brown, spiked skin may look a little threatening, it is in fact very easy to peel back.
Inside, you’ll discover a clove-like glob of juicy white or yellow pulp, which has a sweet honey taste, dashed with a little acidity.
Imagine the acidity and textural crunch of an apple, blended with the sweetness of banana and pineapple, and you’ve got salak.
Mangosteen is popular in jams and desserts across countries like Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia.
This delightful little fruit has a deep purple, tough skin, encasing a clove-like cluster of white, juicy flesh.
Mangosteen’s taste is very sweet, almost like a cross between a peach and a pineapple. Its texture is soft and juicy, like lychee.
Rambutan is named after the Malay word for ‘hairy’, referencing its rich red, spiky rind or skin.
Once you’ve peeled back the spiky spin, you’re treated to a golf-ball-sized pulp of fresh, creamy white flesh.
Rambutan’s taste is a delicate balance between sweet and sour, somewhat similar to a grape. Buried within the flesh, you’ll find the fruit’s seed.
Longan, native to both Southeast Asia and China, is named ‘dragon’s eye’ in Cantonese, due to its pearly, black seed, encased within the flesh.
Longan’s thin, almost bark-textured skin is easily broken by squeezing, allowing you to pop up the translucent ball of juicy flesh.
The fruit is similar to a rambutan and lychee. Its flesh is both sweet and sour, like a grape, but sweeter than lychee, with a musky aroma. It’s popular in desserts like sorbets.
Lychee is one of the more common exotic Asian fruits. Its nickname ‘alligator strawberry’ perfectly describes its bumpy, tough, pink-red skin.
Once inside, your tastebuds will be treated to a grape-like sweet and sour white flesh, with hints of citrus and rose.
Lychees are popular across Asia and found in plenty of delicious juices, smoothies, jams, and other desserts.
Very much a close relative of the rambutan, people often confuse the two. But pulasan is by no means a carbon copy of its brother fruit.
A pulasan has a thick, leathery skin, with short, blunt spikes covering all of its skin. Once peeled, inside the skin tightly sits a white-yellow orb of delicious flesh.
Fleshy and creamy, pulasan’s flesh has the same sweet and sour balance as a grape or rambutan, but it is sweeter than a rambutan.
The langsat, or lanzones, are native to Malaysia. They have a thin, pale brown layer of skin, coating a shiny orb of watery flesh.
A langsat’s taste has plenty of tang and sourness, with a dash of sweetness. It’s similar to a grape, and even more so a bittersweet grapefruit.
Lanzones are eaten raw, but they are also popular in syrups and jams. The seeds, amazingly, are ground down and used in various medications.
Officially the largest member of the citrus family, pomelos are a big and bold exotic Asian fruit you’ll find at many markets.
Round, large and spherical, their dotted skin, ranging from green to yellow, can be peeled back to reveal a thick, creamy flesh.
This flesh can be white, pink, or purple, and have lots of tiny seeds, or hardly any, depending on the type.
Pomelo tastes like a milder grapefruit. It has a sweeter taste, without too much of the bitterness.
Enjoyed raw, pomelos are also used in a range of salads, juices, and sauces, just like plenty of other citrus fruits.
A truly unique and exotic Asian fruit, the jackfruit looks like a slightly elongated mango or melon. Its green skin is covered in tiny, smooth bumps.
Inside, prepare for a mind-bending taste like no other. Jackfruit’s texture is thick, dense, and fibrous, similar to that of a mango or pineapple.
Its taste divides opinion. Some say it’s a sweet cross between mango and pineapple. Others however have compared it, incredibly, to the taste of pulled pork, due to it’s shredded, string-like qualities.
From sorbets to burgers, you can find and eat jackfruit in a wide variety of ways.
Those who love their fruit soft and sweet will instantly fall in love with guava, one of Asia’s most beloved and delicious fruits.
These palm-sized balls of sweetness have both edible skin and flesh, so you can simply pick one up and bite in.
The soft, delicious flesh can be tones of pink, red, or orange, depending on the type. Inside, sweet aromatic flesh tastes and feels like a cross between a pear and a strawberry.
Used in smoothies, juices, fruit desserts, and even as decoration, you’ll commonly see guava fruit across Asia.
Durian is an utterly mind-blowing fruit, found in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, that people very much either love or hate.
Inside durian’s coarse, spiked skin, sits a yellow flesh that has a sweet, creamy, custard-like taste and texture.
However, durian is renowned for its smell that some people find so repugnant, they simply cannot stomach the fruit.
The smell has been described as so many unpleasant odors, from vomit to decaying animals. Singaporean subways have even banned eating the fruit mid-journey, because of its potent smell!
Despite being very much the ‘beauty and the beast’ of Asian fruits, it’s enjoyed in so many ways, from ice creams to curries.
Meyer lemons are best described as a half-way point between a lemon and an orange.
Their skin and flesh are a darker shade of yellow and have more of an orange tone.
Their taste and texture are similar to a lemon but without the overbearing bitterness and tanginess. Meyer lemons are sweeter, with an almost floral note.
Because of this, they are far more commonly eaten raw, rather than almost exclusively as juice, on salads and desserts.
Sapodillas are a smooth and beautiful fruit, very common in India. They have a thin, fuzzy carpet-like brown skin.
Inside, the pale yellow flesh is grainy and juicy. It’s sweet and soft, and it tastes similar to a pear.
Sadopillas are used in a wide range of sweet and savory dishes. Due to being rich in nutrients, they are also used in Indian medicines.
Goji berries are one of the rising stars in the world of superfoods. These little red and orange berries are packed with plenty of antioxidants, leading them to adopt the nickname the ‘anti-aging’ fruit in many Asian countries.
Dried goji berries combine the tastes of fruits like cranberries and sour cherries. They have a tough, chewy exterior, and often stick to your teeth.
Eaten as a snack, you’ll commonly see goji berries topping plenty of smoothie bowls, cereals, yogurts, and other popular health foods.
Kumquats are tiny little citrus fruits, roughly the size of a grape or olive. They look like small, oval-shaped oranges, with a thick skin.
Their orange flesh is juicy, with a sour taste that has a hint of sweetness to it. Due to their skin being so thick, there’s very little flesh inside.
Because of this, and their sour taste, kumquats are used to enhance plenty of dishes. They are used for jams, marmalades, syrups, citrus bases, and even in liquor-based cocktails.
Now here’s an exotic Asian fruit with quite the dashing appearance! Both the starfruit’s yellow skin and flesh are edible and easily sliced.
Also known as carambola, the taste of starfruit, when ripe, is a strange mixture of apples, pears, and grapes.
There’s an initial sweetness, but with a sour undertone and floral aroma. However, like a pear, the taste is not too powerful or overbearing in any way.
Due to their wonderful shape when cut, five-point starfruit slices garnish a range of desserts and salads.
Breadfruit is a fascinating Asian fruit, popular in Southeast Asia and other areas of the Pacific. This prickled, oval fruit, when its flesh is cooked, tastes very similar to soft, freshly baked bread.
Depending on the ripeness and variety, breadfruit’s flesh can also have a starchy, potato-like taste, and a texture similar to that of an artichoke.
Like tomatoes, many people are often unsure whether it’s a fruit or a vegetable. Breadfruit, due to its savory taste, is almost exclusively used as a vegetable.
Its flesh can be mashed, sauteed, or baked in a range of dishes, including curries and seafood-based dishes.
One of the most well-known tropical Asian fruits, the passion fruit’s sharp, explosive taste very much lives up to its name.
Its tough, crispy red skin needs to be peeled, in order to get to the globby, fleshy deep yellow pulp, dotted with black seeds.
Eaten raw, the pulp has an explosive, bitter, and very acidic taste. Each bite gives you a soft, fleshy bite, with a little crunch from the seeds.
Some love the taste, but for others, it’s too bitter and powerful. Hence, the passion fruit pulp is often scooped out, then used in a range of smoothies, juices, and desserts.
Soursop is a little-known bold, oval Asian fruit, popular in both Asia and the Caribbean.
Once you cut beyond the tough, spiked green skin, you’re treated to an almost pineapple-like aroma, and dense, creamy flesh.
Sourpop’s taste is a cross between the sweetness of strawberries and the sour notes of an apple, with an underlying citrus-infused sourness.
Enjoyed raw, soursops flesh is commonly scooped out and used in a range of smoothies, desserts, and other sweet treats.
The tamarillo is a unique, egg-shaped fruit, rosy red in color, and sharing similarities with various tomatoes.
Tamarillo’s tough and bitter skin is not commonly eaten. Instead, it’s cut or peeled to reveal the blood-red, seed-dotted pulp inside.
Tamarillos have an interesting taste. It has a similar consistency to tomato pulp, but it is sweeter. Many describe it is as a cross between a kiwi, passion fruit, and tomato, particularly because you can eat the seeds.
Taramind is a popular ingredient in Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, used to flavor a range of dishes from curries to sauces.
The fruits come encased in a crispy outer shell, that you break as you would a peanut kernel. Inside, you’ll find a long reddish-brown pulp, with veins.
From there, you simply break off or bite pieces of the pulp, without eating the seeds. The texture is very similar to that of a date or prune.
Tamarind can be both sweet and savory, depending on the variety. They have a tangy, sour quality to their taste, and taste similar to apricots, prunes, and dates.
Like durian, here’s another exotic Asian fruit for the daredevil tasters out there. Noni has a powerful savory taste and smell, which many people struggle to stomach.
If its bright green, lumpy, almost wart-like exterior doesn’t put you off, its potent aroma, similar to an overbearing blue cheese, probably will.
Noni has a bitter and sour lingering taste, with just a hint of sweetness. People even refer to it as ‘vomit fruit’, due to its taste and texture!
Definitely not for anyone who gags easily, eating noni fruit has been the subject of many YouTube videos and traveler challenges.
Asian pears are a delicate, fragrant fruit. They are pretty much an exact half-way point between an apple and a pear.
Their circular, top-dimpled shape, crispy, refreshing flesh, and central core of a handful of black seeds, almost resembles an apple exactly.
But whereas an apple is sweet and acidic, Asian pears taste closer to a pear. The flesh is sweet, but it is far less acidic. Hence, each bite is crisp and sweet, with a floral hint in both flavor and aroma.
Yuzu is a citrus fruit, originating from China but today also popular in Japan and other Asian countries.
Yuzi has the outer appearance and skin of a mandarin, with the inner flesh and yellow color of a lemon.
Due to its strong citrusy, sour and bitter taste, yuzu is rarely eaten raw. A cross between a lemon and grapefruit in terms of its sour taste, its juice is used in a range of sauces, condiments, and dishes.
It’s even used to add a little zest to sushi and other savory dishes.
Sugar apples are a unique looking and delicious tasting fruit, used for both its flavor and medicinal properties.
Popular in Malaysia and Vietnam, behind a sugar apple’s tough, scaled green-red rind is an utterly delicious segmented sweet and creamy pulp.
The white or yellow flesh has a sweet, dessert-like taste and texture, similar to a creamy custard. It also has a pleasantly sweet aroma.
Sugar apples are used in purees, syrups, ice cream, and a wide range of desserts. They are also just as delicious when eaten raw.
Also known as yangmei or waxburry, Chinese bayberry trees are a common sight in fields and woodlands baking under the hot Chinese summer sun.
Chinese bayberries have a rich red color and an exquisite taste that’s a unique cross between a strawberry cranberry and pomegranate.
Sweet with bitter notes, refreshing, and electricity on the tongue, Chinese bayberries are used in a range of juices and desserts, as well as in medicine.
Very much one of the poster boys or girls for exotic tropical fruits, mangoes have gained notoriety across the world for their richness and juiciness.
Beneath the beautiful spotted red and green, but very tough skin, lies a vibrant yellow flesh, clinging to a large, flat, pebble-like seed.
Mango has a refreshing, citrusy, and floral taste, with a juicy and fibrous texture. It also has a very pleasant, sweet, and refreshing aroma.
You’ll find mango in a vast array of both sweet and savory dishes, from smoothies and desserts to mango sticky rice and even garnishing salads.
Coconuts, like mangoes, are another of the most famous of exotic Asian fruits. Coconut flavors a whole range of dishes, juices, and desserts.
Many species of coconut exist, but nearly all will be either green or brown, depending on how much they have aged.
Green coconuts, as pictured, are largely used for their delicious and refreshing water. Once brown, the coconut develops the iconic straw-like shell, and the insides are better for cooking.
Coconuts offer two delightful tastes. The first, the coconut’s milk, has a consistency like water. It’s breathtakingly refreshing, a little creamy, and slightly sweet.
The second is the white coconut flesh, that lines in the inside of the shell. Once you scoop and scrape off the flesh, you’ll be treated to a thick, fatty bite of flesh with both nutty and sweet qualities.
Either way, you have to try fresh coconut when you visit Asia. It’s one of the most delicious and refreshing tastes on the continent.
Our final stop on the list takes us to the beautiful papaya fruit. Wrapped in a thin green, yellow, or orange skin, papaya’s pulp is one of the most well-known tropical fruit images.
Papaya tastes similar to a cantaloupe melon, in that it’s mildly sweet. It has an almost buttery texture, and it tastes refreshing and fleshy.
It’s commonly described as a sweeter tasting pumpkin. The glut of seeds in payapa’s cavity are commonly thrown away, but the seeds are in fact both edible and very nutritious.
Papaya is used in a range of juices, jams, and desserts, while its seeds are used in supplements and medicine.
Wow! That was quite the colorful, mouthwatering, and delicious way to explore Asia, I’m sure you’ll agree!
Trying new and exciting foods is one of the best experiences you can have in any Asian country, and the fruits are a great place to start.
Because of the abundance of street food vendors and food markets across all Asian countries, you’ll never be too far away from many of these exotic fruits.
If you want to take it a step further, try a culinary or cooking class. Under the expertise of an Asian chef, you’ll learn how many of these fruits’ unique flavors can enhance so many dishes.
From sour to sharp, custard to floral, these fruits offer flavors and textures on a mind-blowing scale.
Whether you love trying new flavors, or you’re looking to push yourself out of your comfort zone, I’d highly recommend trying as many of these exotic Asian fruits as you can.
And who knows? You may love of one these fruits so much, you’ll wonder how you’ve lived without it for so long!
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Eager to try one of these exotic and unique Asian fruits in the future? Save this article to one of your Pinterest boards, so you can keep this list in a handy, easily accessible place.
Author: Dale Johnson is a content creator, writer, and full-time digital nomad. A traveler with a big appetite, he’s collectively spent over a year living in various parts of Southeast Asia, including Vietnam and Indonesia.
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