Spiky or hairy? Time to taste some crazy-looking fruit…

The PulasanAll the label said was “Pulasan”.
They were dark purple and about the size of an egg, with strong short spikes all over them. What was this weird sea-urchin-like mystery fruit?

Having wandered the Singapore supermarket aisles for nearly 4 years now, we have tried most of the local produce… but this was something new.

We hunted around on the Internet and discovered that the ‘pulasan’ is indeed a local fruit – coming mainly from Malaysia. The name comes from the Malaysian word Pulas which means twist. This is a clue to removing that spiky skin! You hold it in two hands and twist it to reveal the white semi-translucent flesh. The flesh comes out really easily but there is a seed inside (which apparently is edible and tastes like almonds, but we didn’t try it). The flesh is very sweet and soft with a tropical grape-y flavour. Very tasty!

Opening the Pulasan

The pulasan tree thrives only in the very tropical regions of south-east Asia. Apparently it bears the most fruit after a long dry spell which might explain why we have seen them here in the Singapore fruit market. (We had a record breaking drought at the beginning of the year.)

How about the rambutan? – Another very strange looking but more easily available south-east Asian fruit! We discovered that the pulasan is very closely related to the rambutan. The rambutan also has a Malay name Rambut meaning hairy. You can definitely see why!The RambutanIn comparison? We found the rambutan easier to peel – you don’t need to twist – you just squeeze them and the flesh and seed pop out of the skin. They also have a seed, but unlike the pulasan you cannot eat them. The flesh of the two fruit tastes similar but the Pulasan was extra sweet with a delicate flavour, and the rambutan was a little more tart. The seed of the rambutan was also a little more difficult to separate from the flesh. We’d be hard pressed to pick a favourite.

With the satisfying juiciness of the Pulasan, and the big size of the fruit, it is easy to see why this is a popular backyard tree in Malaysia. We feel lucky to have tasted this supermarket rarity!


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