Friday, September 14, 2012

Fruity Fridays - Star Fruit

This Friday's fruit: Star Fruit
Also known as: carambola
Vietnamese name: quả khế
Cost in the market outside my house: I have no idea! My landlord gave me lots from the tree in the courtyard.
Season in Northern Vietnam: July - August
Interesting Facts: The sour types of star fruit can dissolve tarnish and rust, so is sometimes used to polish metal, especially brass! (From Fruits of warm climates by Julia Morton)

I lived here, in this apartment, for almost a year before I realized that there was a star fruit tree in the courtyard! Maybe the year before hadn't been a good year for them, or the season was earlier for some reason and was finished before I got here, but I hadn't noticed them at all. Then last year I was going out one day and found a star fruit on the ground. I looked up, and there were several star fruits coming off the branches of this tree like some kind of abnormal growth.

That was last year, and while it was exciting, there weren't actually very many star fruits on the tree. This year, however, the branches were drooping with the weight of them.

I hadn't picked any for myself yet when I came home one day and my landlord was there, with bags and bags of them that he'd picked off the tree. I don't think he entirely knew what to do with them, so he gave me a few!

I didn't know what to do with them either, so I let them ripen for a few days until the green edges had disappeared, then cut one up and ate it.

In case you were wondering, they got their name from their shape when they're sliced.

They have a somewhat waxy texture on the outside, but the inside is crisp and juicy. Some people say they taste like a cross between apples, pears, and something citrus. I guess this is about right, but what they remind me of most is the yellow plums we had on a tree at home when I was a kid. I would say that's because of the colour and texture more than the taste though!

Star fruits can be made into all kinds of dishes, both sweet and savoury, but, typical of me, I only ever managed to find time to make sweet ones.

First, I made this Star Fruit in Mango-Orange sauce, which was pretty easy and delicious! It basically involves slices of star fruit cooked in orange juice and brown sugar, then mango puree is added, and it's topped with coconut milk and pomegranate seeds.The star fruit stays a bit crunchy, and so are the fresh pomegranate seeds, which makes a nice contrast combined with the smooth, sweet mango/orange mixture and coconut milk. It was yummy and would have been even better with some vanilla ice cream!

Possibly the most delicious thing I made from star fruit was a sort of pie that I created based on various parts of things I'd read. When the lucky recipients asked me what it was, I described it as a "star fruit and passion fruit custard pie thingy", although I suppose I should give it a real name like "Tropical Fruit Surprise" or something cheesy like that.

It starts with a shortbread crust, topped by slices of star fruit and then with a mixture of palm sugar and cinnamon "spread" over the top.

This gets baked in the oven for about 15 minutes, while you whisk up a passion fruit custard. The custard gets poured over the top, and baked a further 30 minutes. In the meantime you can mix up a topping of flour, butter, slivered almonds, and brown sugar, and sprinkle it over the top for the last 15 minutes of baking time.

The half-baked custard.

The finished pie.

This pie was FAR more delicious than I had anticipated, and got rave reviews from the lucky few who got to eat it! (The recipe is below, and you could probably substitute different fruits)

One other thing I tried to make was Star Fruit Chutney from This website has loads of star fruit recipes, but that's the only one I tried. The recipe said to cook it for 25 minutes, but I cooked it for hours before the star fruit softened, and it was still chunky and didn't taste very nice. However, there are a couple of recipes there that I'd still like to have a go at.

I also attempted two types of Star Fruit chips, some seasoned with salt and cayenne pepper, as in this recipe, and some seasoned with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Despite leaving them in the oven on low temperature for a LONG time, they never got crispy and are more like just dried fruit. The cayenne pepper ones taste a bit weird, but the cinnamon and nutmeg ones taste ok. Having said that, I don't think I'd make them again.

So that's it for star fruit. There are a surprising number of recipes out there, so if you find yourself with star fruits, go searching and let me know if you find any gems!

Tropical Fruit Custard Pie

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tbsp sugar
65g butter

Sift together the dry ingredients, then cut in the butter with your hands until it’s crumbly. Press into a 9 inch pie plate. Lay slices from approx. 1.5 star fruits on top.

Sweet topping:
1/3 cup palm sugar (brown sugar would work, but you might need to reduce the amount a bit)
½ tsp cinnamon

Mix together with your fingers, sprinkle over star fruits in the pan. Bake at 200C or 400F for about 15 minutes.

1 egg yolk
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup sour cream
2 tbsp white sugar (to taste, add 1 at a time)
Pinch nutmeg
Juice of 2 passion fruits, seeds removed

Mix together and pour over the baked star fruit and crust. Reduce oven temperature to 175C or 350F and bake for approx. 30 mins.

Topping (measurements approximate)
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp butter
¼ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup brown sugar

Mix together with your fingers until crumbly. Sprinkle on top of the custard while it bakes. (I added it partway through the 30 mins)

1 comment:

  1. Great recipe. Thanks for sharing it. The food looks lovely. I had star food when travelling in Vietnam and Thailand, it's nice. Well done on your recipe x


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