Dragon Fruit: What Is It, How to Eat It?

dfopen 2What is purple on the outside, white with small black polka dots in the inside and is called huǒ lóng guǒ in Chinese? Insert funny pun with a reference to Chris Chistie’s hidden body parts here. No, you crazy kooks, it is a dragon fruit, also known as pitaya or pitahaya. This fruit of of the night blooming cactus is native to South America and subsequently imported to and grown in many parts of  Asia. Lucky for us, it can be found at Bloomfield’s East-West Market, as well as Kings in Montclair.

df2This intensely colorful fruit is packed with all kinds of healthy nutrients. Rich in antioxidants, the benefits attributed to dragon fruit include acting as a cancer preventative, preventing memory loss, reducing blood glucose levels, lowering blood pressure, and preventing the formation of carcinogenic free-radicals (I say lock up the radicals).  It is also packed with vitamin C.

df1A bit bland in taste, yet custard like on its own, when mixed with yogurt and a sweet fruit such as strawberries, dragon fruit becomes a rich tasting healthy dessert.

Simply cut the fruit in half, scoop the white flesh out with a spoon, then pop it into the blender. Now add some fresh strawberries and one to one and a half cups of vanilla yogurt. Try using  Greek yogurt for a thicker consistency. Blend it quickly. For an impressive presentation pour it back into the hallowed out shell.

The final taste is sweet,  rich, and custard-like. The presentation in the purple shell would make a fantastic Valentine’s Day dessert.

Xīn Nián Kuài Lè 新年快樂 or Happy New Year to all who celebrate. Today is the first day in the Year of the Snake; let it be filled with joy, be prosperous (whatever that means in your life) and like the snake let us treat it with healthy respect.

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  1. Albeit in a blend, dragon fruit is already available in a juice from Dole. I bought a half gallon at Stop & Shop, and there’s a lengthy explanation of the fruit and its benefits on the juice carton.

  2. The next panacea. Beyond the novelty value, hard to get beyond the fact that it has basically no taste at all. A staple of any Asian hotel breakfast buffet. Different story if there is any real nutritional value, but I suspect that someone just woke up to the fact that it was exotic, had a cool name (wonder what they call it in it’s native regions, Vietnam I believe), and nobody was exploiting the marketing.

  3. Like deadeye, I don’t get the fascination either. Maybe the exotic-ness lures people to the kiwi-like texture. However, the lack of taste may have come from one that was unripe. Sometimes they can be very sweet, at other times it is as bland as water. I’m sure it has something to do with the ripeness, but I haven’t a clue on how to pick them. And it can be a $5/lb risk. I haven’t gone wrong with the internal red flesh or the yellow exterior varieties. But they are much harder to find.
    There has been some effort for Southern California farmers to try and grow them for the US market. Vietnamese imports are dominating. The pithaya plant requires a certain bat to pollinate within the 12 hr blooming timeframe, but I’m guessing the Vietnamese are up at night doing it by hand.

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