Friday, March 02, 2012

Fruity Sài gòn - Part One

I'm a fruit person! And that probably comes from my mother, she loves fruits very very much.

She can have fruits instead of meal!
I remember when my mother worked as teacher in Bồ Đề high school (a kind of Buddhist school before 1975) there was an old wholesale fruit market "Cầu Muối" nearby (nowadays school till there, but its surrounds changed, new structures, new highway and of course the market has gone!), after class hours, before heading home, she bought not a dozen, but a whole big basket (cần xé) of sugar-apple (mảng cầu ta).

Hundred of it! My mother not only loves, she craves and sweet mango, and durian...! 

Fruit display at Bến Thành market 
The very good thing about living in Vietnam is that the fruit is great all year around! And they are so colourful, every time I pass by Bến Thành market, in Lê Thánh Tôn street, I always keep looking at the fruit display! They are so eye catching!

We usually have fruit as dessert after lunch, dinner! Nowadays some new concept shops opened, for teenager, they serve fresh fruit cocktail, fruit smoothie..., but fruit hawkers are still everywhere, in many streets, eps. in Nguyễn Văn Cừ street! Many universities, high schools nearby, and fruit is always favorite snack for girls!  

Popular fruit stall cart in Saigon 
In every street in Saigon, we easily find fruit stall carts by season: from popular banana (chuối), mango (xoài), rambutan (chôm chôm), guava (ổi), water melon (dưa hấu) to some unique fruit as egg fruit (lekima), plum mango (thanh trà) or gold apple (quả thị) which has strong fragrant smell and medicinal value. But most popular is ready-to-eat fruit cart, where most common fruits are peel-off and sliced! We pick and buy! And never forget a small pack of chili salt (muối ớt)! Yes, especially for pineapple, guava, wax apple (mận), jicama (sắn)...we dip a bit in chili salt and enjoy the combined taste of sour, sweet, salty and spicy! Great!

                Egg fruit (lekima), the yellow & fruit's texture reminds the boiled egg yolk! 

Here is a little information on some other very common fruits that you will see in Vietnam, try it, it's delicious, sweet and healthy! But don't forget to bargain, especially near to Bến Thành market!

Guava (ổi)
Like apple in the west. Guava is very popular and affordable! But nowadays with some species mixed with Taiwanese ones, guava is softer, sweeter, and also higher in price! Rough outside but soft, nice flavor, exp. the ones with pink color flesh inside! Very rich in vitamin C!
Favorite snack for school children, always goes with salt & chili, or more special shrimp salt from Tây Ninh!

Milk fruit 
Milk fruit or vú sữa, our family used to have this milk fruit tree in our tiny front yard, it could 30 or 40 year old at that time, it gave slightly brown and green color fruit, very sweet and juicy!

I loved to climb up to the rooftop, to lie down under the tree shade and dream about my faraway future or mysterious stars on the sky! This fruit is delicious, sweet, milk color with nice flavor! Best if served chilled! I used to mix this fruit flesh with condensed milk, ice cubes! Great cocktail for kids!  

Mangosteen (măng cụt) 
Mangosteen or măng cụt. The name in Vietnamese is quite difficult to guess what does it mean! It seems nothing! But we love this fruit anyway! If right in the season, the fruit is bigger, the outside skin is nice with purely purple color! 
Very interesting fact: you can guess how many sections (múi) inside without open the fruit by counting a small part, look like flower petals, at the bottom! Never wrong!

The taste of mangosteen is nice , sweet, tangy (!) and juicy! Don't try to bite the dark purple rind! It's not edible, but heard it has medicinal value!

Sugar apple (mãng cầu) 
My mother's favorite! Now I understand (or only my guess!) why sugar apple! This fruit is very sweet (don't worry but the taste is nice, not like sugar!) sugar could come from here, when you bite the fruit you feel super small sands in its flesh, like refined sugar! 
The best species of this fruit is chewy sugar apple (mãng cầu dai)! Don't forget to check with vendor or the best way is to try! Chewy fruit flesh!    

Rambutan (chom chom)
Scaring look but the fruit itself is wonderful! Sweet and just a bit sour, nice texture!
Better buy chom chom tróc (the fruit flesh is not attached to the seed, literally!) or chom chom nhãn (new species mixed with longan, giving nicer taste with longan flavor, sweeter, but the fruit itself is smaller with shorter spines!)  

Dragon fruit (thanh long) 
That could be the only fruit originated from Vietnam in Phan Thiet area! 
Whenever you go to famous seaside resorts in Phan Thiet or Mui Ne, you surely will pass by!

          New species of dragon fruit - reddish dragon fruit

Unique tropical fruit! Now we have a new species - bloody reddish dragon fruit! This is a marriage between our traditional dragon fruit (or white thanh long) with red dragon fruit originated from Colombia.
It took a decade to develop this new fruit since 1995.

Smaller, look uglier (!) very red inside and much sweeter than white dragon fruit!
The price is also higher, almost double if not triple! Since the first launch in 2005, reddish dragon fruit is comparatively rare not popular! I seldom see it in the market! 

Plum mango (thanh trà)
Plum mango or thanh trà (the name in Vietnamese sounds very nice!) Now it's in season, from Jan. to Mar.! From Mekong Delta, sweet and sour, very nice flavor! before eating you need to do "massage" for the fruit a little bit, it helps to peel off the skin easily! 
There are two kinds of thanh trà: one with hard green skin, more sour! But so far I see only the yellow ones with soft skin in the city! Very eye-catching color !

Please check my second post about Fruity Saigon!
One more thing, I should probably share how we, Saigonese, eat fruits. Quite unique!  


  1. Love the photos. Here is a little English tip for you: You shouldn't use exclamation marks (!) at the end of every sentence. After about three sentences, it renders them meaningless and they cannot be taken seriously. You should only use exclamation marks occasionally when you really want to emphasize something special. Trust me, this will improve the quality of your writing.

    1. Thanks a lot! That's always my problem...the exclamation marks! Will try! Thanks again for checking my blog. Cheers


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