Dragon fruits
Dragon fruits at a fruit stall in Shanghai. (Photo Credit: Yann Cognieux)

This vividly pink tropical fruit with green-tipped spines is one of the most strikingly colourful fruit I’ve ever seen. Some have said that the fruit’s outer skin resembles the scales of a dragon, which gives it the name dragon fruit. It is also sometimes known as pitaya. I find the fruit looks more like a beautiful, pink rosebud. Dragon fruit is indigenous to Mexico and Central America, and it is also very popular in many Asian countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, and China. If you can’t find dragon fruit at your local grocery, you can usually find them at Asian grocery stores.

There are three types of dragon fruit: pink skinned with white flesh (the most common type), pink skinned with red flesh, and yellow skinned with white flesh. All dragon fruits have an abundance of small, black seeds that are edible. When choosing a dragon fruit, its skin should feel slightly spongy when pressed lightly. A little old lady at a market once taught me to feel the fruit’s stem too. It should bend without breaking when you touch it; if it’s brittle, move on. Dragon fruit that has a lot of blotches should be avoided, as it may be overripe.

Tips for Eating Dragon Fruit:

Now that you have the perfect pink fruit in front of you, what next?

  • There are several ways to prepare a dragon fruit:
    • Slice the fruit lengthwise and scoop out the flesh with a spoon by simply sliding the spoon between the flesh and the skin. Don’t throw the skin away – I’ll tell you why below.
    • Quarter the dragon fruit and peel back the skin by loosening one corner of the skin with your finger, and slowly lifting the flesh off the skin.
    • If you’re in need for a quick fix, quarter the dragon fruit and just bite it right off of the peel.
  • Make sure the flesh does not have any residual pink skin on it. Though the skin is pretty and pink, it doesn’t taste good and may give you a stomach ache.
  • You can eat the dragon fruit right away, but I find it best chopped into cubes and served chilled.
  • If you’re feeling fancy, serve the dragon fruit cubes in the bright pink skin that you’ve saved. It can be an impressive, exotic dessert for your next dinner party!
  • Dragon fruit has a mildly sweet taste, like a blend of kiwi and pear. You can heighten the flavour with just a dash of lemon juice or a pinch of black salt.
  • You can add dragon fruit to smoothies or fruit salads. But remember not to mix it with fruits that have strong flavours as they could overpower the dragon fruit’s delicate taste.

Did You Know?

If you think dragon fruit is only easy on the eyes and the stomach (as if that’s not enough!), think again. Rumour has it that its rich vitamin C content also makes it a great acne killer. Turn a slice of dragon fruit into a paste, apply it to your acne, then rinse with water – voila! Give this a try and let me know if it really works.

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About Anna de Waard-Leung

Anna loves her heels, wine, and food - in that exact order. Her latest food addictions include Shiraz Mourvèdre, chicken tikka masala, sushi, and ossenworst (a raw beef sausage originating in Amsterdam).

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