Also known as: Pitaya, Pitahaya
Vietnamese name: Thanh Long
Cost in the market outside my house: 40,000 dong ($2)/kilo (I think the white ones are cheaper, as they're more common)
Season in Northern Vietnam: They seem to be around a bit now, July-August, but they certainly aren't as common as the white variety. I don't eat this stuff much so I don't really know. I think they might be brought up from the South.
Interesting facts: This is actually the fruit of a climbing cactus, and grows at the end of a long leaf, as you can see here. The Vietnamese name literally translates to "Green Dragon" and is meant to reflect the way the cactus looks like a dragon as it climbs up the tree. The fruit is high in vitamin C, antioxidants and fibre and thus exceptionally good for you. High consumption of this fruit will turn your urine and feces slightly red. And finally, legend has it that a tribe in Southern Arizona treasured this fruit so much that after eating it, they would dry their poo, separate the seeds, grind them into flour, and eat them again, thus having a 'second harvest' of Dragon Fruit.*
This is one of the funkiest-looking fruits out there, so I had to share it with you. If you don't know what it is, you'll think its bright pink skin and spiky green leaves are just about the strangest thing you've ever seen! They come in two varieties here, the quite common white-fleshed version and the much more rare red-fleshed version. They look identical on the outside, so the only way to know what you're buying is to ask the seller and trust that they're telling you the truth. (they are; why wouldn't they?)
It's pretty amazing to slice it open and see this beautiful red flesh inside, dotted with tiny edible black seeds.
To eat it, just wait until it gives just a little bit when squeezed (not too hard!), slice it down the middle, and scoop it out with a spoon. People say it's better chilled, but I don't think it really matters. I think just scooping it with a spoon is the way most people eat it, aside from maybe in the occasional shake or smoothie.
I scooped it out, then cut it into cube-ish shapes and put it back in the skin to serve. This would be extra pretty with the white one against the pink skin!
I've never been a fan of Dragon Fruit. It's not bad, there's nothing wrong with it, but I've always just found it kind of bland and boring. But then, until now I've only ever had the white-fleshed one. I'd been told the red one is better, and it's true! It has a slightly soft texture and is sweeter and a bit more flavourful than the white one. Most people compare it to a kiwi, which I think is a pretty fair comparison, both in texture and taste.
I haven't eaten this any other way besides in fruit salad or with my muesli and yogurt in the morning, and I can't imagine you'd want to cook it, but I've seen recipes for dragon fruit salsa to go with fish or seafood, which sounds pretty good. Also, this website has a couple of recipes I'd be pretty tempted to try!
Have you ever tried dragon fruit? Have you eaten it any way besides just straight out of the skin? Let me know!