Delicious Chinese Fruit That Westerners Should Try

Updated on October 13, 2016
InspiringWriter profile image

Originally from Birmingham, England, Ava has been living in Shenzhen on South China's tropical South East coast since 2013.

What's This All About?

You mean you can't tell from the title? Just kidding.

My initial trips to the fruit and vegetable stalls, markets, and supermarkets in China were nothing short of amazing.

I was greeted with an amazing cornucopia of smells, colours, shapes, and tastes. It was bewildering, but in a totally good way.

I've shared a few of my favourites, in addition to adding the Chinese name on some headings so you can show off to your friends.

Sweet Pitaya (Dragon Fruit)

Known by several different names, including sweet pitaya and dragon fruit.
Known by several different names, including sweet pitaya and dragon fruit.

Huolong Guo (Dragon Fruit)

I wasn't sure what to expect when one of my kind and generous students gifted me with a bag of dragon fruit. I'd had only been in China for a short time and had never seen one before. How did I eat it and what exactly what was it?

Since that time, I've come to love the red-skinned dragon fruit that's common in China. A yellow-skinned version is common in other Asian countries. I love the way that my knife slices through the soft inner as if it were gliding through butter after I've peeled the thick and slightly rubbery outer layer. It also seems to melt on my tongue, the fruit, not the knife.

Dragon fruit's extremely versatile. I've eaten it alone, juiced it with greens, diced it, and put in a glass of sweet alcopop. Other times, I just admire it's rich, red beauty and unique leaf shape.

Is it tasty, you ask? Is grass green, I reply.

Hold Your Nose...

Durian fruit—better tasting than smelling.
Durian fruit—better tasting than smelling.

Liulian (Durian Fruit)

...because you'll smell it before you see it. 'Pungent' and 'pongy,' along with 'what on earth is that stink,' are some of the more widely heard phrases when referring to Durian fruit—and believe me, they're not lying or exaggerating.

Originally from Malaysia and Indonesia, the spiky, peeled fruit has a tough outer husk and a soft, creamy yellow inner. It can be made into ice cream, which seems to dull the smell, and it can also be enjoyed cut into pieces.

It's been banned from many public places, again because it has such a strong smell, sorry to harp on about it, but if you've ever been in the vicinity, you'll know what I mean. It doesn't smell like a fruit at all. No citrus tones, or anything. To be honest, it reminds me of something that's been languishing in a rubbish bin.

That aside, its creamy smoothness is enjoyable, a small piece at a time.


Chinese Olives

This is one just one of many Chinese olive varieties.
This is one just one of many Chinese olive varieties.

Zhongguo Ganlan (Chinese Olives)

Chinese olives share nothing more than a name with their Western olive counterparts. Chinese olives look and taste very different. They also come in a greater variety of colours, such as red and yellow, in addition to the green and black which we're used to in Europe and North America.

In terms of size, they're like bigger and badder older siblings to their western cousins with thicker (often crisper) skins that some people will eat, while others prefer not to. The skins are wrinkled, kind of like prunes.

Flavours can range from one extreme to the other: tart to sweet. This, of course, affects how and when they're eaten.

I've tried these a few times along with other fruits and didn't find them particularly memorable, but they are versatile and can be used in preserving meat or seafood, can be dried and paired with herbs, and also eaten as an accompaniment to cheese.

In some parts of China, they may be used in medicine too.

Mangosteen

Mangosteen
Mangosteen

Shanzhu, Queen of Fruit (if you're posh), or Mangosteen

I love this name Mangosteen. It has a lovely ring to it even though it's not as regal as it's lesser known counterpart, Queen of Fruit.

Originally from Malaysia, it's kind of garlic shaped, but not garlic tasting—thank goodness! Could you imagine?—and has a bit of a sweet and sour taste.

With it's high price tag, it's not really your common or garden fruit. It's expensive because it takes so long for the trees to bear fruit after planting; 10 years, no less.

Finally, it's rich in nutrients and very, very succulent.

Buddha's Hand

Too tart to eat whole but great for citrus shavings.
Too tart to eat whole but great for citrus shavings. | Source

Chinese Sugar Apple / Custard Apple

Tang Pingguo (Chinese Sugar Apple)

Also known as 'Bull's Heart,' these fruits are sweet, thick, and a little bit squishy, hence the attached tag of 'custard.'

The outside looks a variation of an unripe pine cone made of thick green peel. But, as with a lot of fruit, the inside is where the treasure lies. Bite into one, and you'll experience an unusual combination of sweet flavour and a grainy texture. Couldn't invent that if you tried, right?

Don't eat the seed and check for ripeness before you dig in because it's generally sold just before ripening. If you like to accessorize your fruit (and who doesn't?) with other fruits or foods in your kitchen, you can also find varieties of Tang Pingguo in pink, purple, and bright red.

It's great for juicing, baby food, snacking, making jam, and whatever else your imagination leads you to. Some people even pair it with meat, but personally speaking, I think that's just too weird.

Physalis Fruit

Physalis Fruit
Physalis Fruit | Source

Suan Jiang Guoshi (Physalis Fruit)

With a similar texture to a tiny tomato, pyhsalis fruit offer a bit of a surprise when you bite into them, mainly because they feel like a tomato on your tongue, but they taste more like orange. I don't think anyone could have predicted that from these orange and yellow fruits.

The closest western equivalent is probably gooseberry, but even then they're not identical; although, just like gooseberries, physalis are great for pies and jams.

I like them best raw. Once you tear off the crispy brown leaves and wash them, they're great to nibble on for a healthy snack.

Chinese Litchi - Rambutan

Rambutan (Lizhi or Lychee)

Ah, the glorious lychee! As soon as I cracked open the luxuriant red and green peel, a spark of recognition rose within me.

They taste the same as western lychees. Juicy, refreshing, slightly sweet, and pretty wonderful. The main and only difference is the outer coating. Perhaps this one is to protect from the hot southern Chinese sun as it sits on the tree branches.

Other types of Litchi (Lizhi, Lychee - a fruit by any other name) come in green and slightly yellow varieties and taste just as delicious on the tongue. During lychee season, these fruits are abundant. You can pick them up from streets stalls, in every supermarket, and most homes and offices, schools, and other workplaces will have them displayed and ready to eat, inviting you to help yourself. Just remember to say thank you!

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • profile image

        AG 

        5 months ago

        Rambutan is hongmaotan. lychee is the similar but "non-hairy" friend of rambutan

      • InspiringWriter profile imageAUTHOR

        Ava Ming 

        14 months ago from Shenzhen, China

        Hi Jose, thanks for the correction (-:

      • InspiringWriter profile imageAUTHOR

        Ava Ming 

        14 months ago from Shenzhen, China

        Hi Javi, thanks for your correction (-:

      • profile image

        Javi 

        14 months ago

        Another mistake in the case of sugar-apple or sweetsop Annona squamosa, all Annona are native of the tropical Americas and West Indies

      • profile image

        Jose 

        14 months ago

        Excuse me but Dragon fruit is NOT native to China in spite of the name...Hylocereus undatus is a species of the Cactaceae. Like all true cacti, the genus originates in the Americas

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, delishably.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://delishably.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)