If you visit SE Asia in June, you cannot help but notice the fruit markets groaning with a huge and delightful exotic choice. It’s one of the intoxicating pleasures of travelling in the region, but is it possible to experience such intoxication at home? The answer is ‘with some difficulty’. However, with some careful searching, you can buy some wonderfully tasty tropical fruit at the moment.
Mangoes: The sweet, succulent Sindhri mango from Pakistan is now available alongside Alphonso and Kesar from India and the sublime Nam Dok Mae from Thailand. These are the best varieties for flavour, but it is also worth looking out for Maya from Gambia, a deliciously silky and sweet variety.
Most supermarkets sell Kent or Keitt from West Africa or Columbia as standard fare, and while the best of these can be very sweet with good flavour, they are often a little bland and rubbery.
If you are lucky, you may find the Champagne® mango on sale. This is the famous and delicious Ataulfo mango of Mexico, rarely seen in this country and well worth sampling: silky smooth, yellow-fleshed, sweet and fibreless.
Lychee: For incomparable flavour, try Mexican lychee, a variety called Mauritius. You have to pay quite a price, but they are a real treat as the sweetness and aroma are unique and irresistible (in Sainsbury’s, the fruit is packed in a sealed punnet from which, on opening, you are really assailed by the most wonderful exotic aroma).
In Chinatown, you may be lucky to find the large, fleshy Fei Chi Siu lychee from China: perfection.
Longan: Longan have some similarity to lychee with white, translucent flesh, a single stone, and thin brittle skin. They have their own distinct flavour and are becoming more popular in this country, though are not easy to find. They are usually from Vietnam or Thailand and are a lovely alternative to lychee.
Rambutan: This is another tropical fruit with white, translucent flesh and a delicious, fragrant flavour. With these, the single stone is quite large, but is removed very easily from the firm flesh. The distinctive spiky, hairy skin make the fruit very easy to recognise.
Where to Buy:
- Indian and Pakistani mangoes:
- Easiest to buy in Asian grocery stores by the box (£7-8 per box);
- Occasionally sold in Tesco and Morrisons (£5.80-6.50 per box).
- Thai mangoes:
- Nam Dok Mae in M&S at £3.50 each;
- SE Asian grocery stores, Chinatown;
- Mango and sticky rice at Thai restaurants.
- Maya mango:
- Seen in Tesco (Finest mango at £2.00), and will probably appear in Waitrose.
- Champagne® mango:
- Wholefoods (7 stores in London, plus Glasgow and Cheltenham) at £2.49 each.
- Most high quality green grocers and SE Asian stores;
- Mexican lychee are in M&S and Sainsbury’s;
- Fei Chi Siu lychee in Chinatown.
- SE Asian stores;
- SE Asian stores;
- Asda (Blue River pack).
13th June 2017
©Good Fruit Guide 2017. Recommendations on fruit varieties and types with the very best taste are personal to the editor of Good Fruit Guide, and do not attempt to be exhaustive or supported by verifiable consumer research. The highlighting of fruit with the very best taste in the opinion of the editor is not intended as a judgement on the taste of varieties and types of fruit not mentioned.