The Rambutan or Ngo in Thai is a small tropical fruit and a close relative to the Lychee and Longan family with very similar tastes and textures. The fruit is thought to have first originated in Malaysia but now it is also widely grown and enjoyed throughout Thailand. The translucent flesh is nice and sweet with the only difference being that of the fruit's reddish-brown skin is covered with fine green-tipped hairs. Perhaps not that great to look at.
This peculiar looking fruit (from the outside only that is) is not as scented as the Lychee, but it does have a rather delicate sharp taste. It's usually eaten by hand. This is done while holding on to the bottom half of the shell with the top half cut off to expose the flesh. There's also a technique to squeezing them open so as to avoid squirting the juices over yourself so don't be shy to ask one of the local Thai's to demonstrate this for you.
As with lychees, rambutans can be stored in the refrigerator where they will keep for at least a week. You can use them fresh as an addition to your fruit salad, but they are not really recommended for cooking purposes.
Lychees are indigenous to the subtropical regions around southern China and Thailand and grow in clusters on small trees. The ripened fruit is about the same size of a small plum and covered with a scaly red shell. Once the skin is removed, a pearly white fruit is revealed which has a nice perfume scent as well as a delicious sweet taste, somewhat like a grape. Lychees and their close relatives, Longans known as Dragon Eyes are said to boost fertility. They're also good for cleaning the palate after a meal.
You can simply eat lychees as they are by nibbling the flesh off their pits or you can remove the pits and add the flesh to a fruit salad along with other enjoyable fruits you may choose. I believe lychees can also be used to make sherbets although I am not sure how this is actually done. They are easy to prepare as their brittle skins part effortlessly. The fruit tastes best when chilled in the refrigerator and will stay fresh for up to a week.
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