Every Chinese New Year includes an unexpected discovery for this long-term laowai in China. This year, it’s a fruit I’ve often sampled but never truly enjoyed… until now. Apparently, no one eats jackfruit properly in the north. There’s a moment when it’s perfectly ripe and it’s taken until now for that moment to find my taste buds.
My aunt-in-law spends a part of her winters in Sanya and knows a friend who has several jackfruit trees on their property. She told me that often one tree will only produce one piece of fruit—a giant, oblong, scary-looking spiky beast of a fruit that used to make me a little nervous when I saw it in Chinatown back in the days before coming to Asia. The spikes alone are enough to make it menacing! In fact, having mis-associated its spikes with a dragon’s tail, it was years before I realized jackfruit wasn’t dragonfruit .
Since coming to Asia, I no longer allow fruit scare me (!) and I’ve sampled plenty of exotic delectables, but jackfruit has never been memorable. That is, until now. My aunt-in-law’s friend sent their family a huge piece of jackfruit that wasn’t quite ripe. It came with strict instructions to wait a certain number of days before breaking its spiky exterior and harvesting the fruit.
When she placed a bowl of ripe jackfruit in front of me and insisted I eat it “because the vitamin C in the fruit is extremely high,” I wasn’t expecting such an amazing taste experience. I stand corrected. Jackfruit really is delicious.
Like everything tasty, it’s all about timing. That’s its secret. 😉
Photos: Courtesy of Ember Swift