Photo: Late boat at Waecicu near Labuan Bajo.

What is a rambutan?

The luscious egg-shaped rambutan, a native to Malaysia, is sometimes called the hairy lychee as its skin is covered in soft long red-green hairs. Its English name is derived from the Malay for hairy, "rambut". Rambutans are usually bright red - the skin darkens as the fruit ripens - and about the size of a ping-pong ball. They contain a single seed surrounded by sweet and acidic translucent white flesh. The seed has an almond like flavour but isn't typically eaten.

To open the skin, make a cut with a paring knife as if you were going to slice the fruit in half, but only cut through the skin, and then peel the skin off to get to the fruit with your fingers. Don't bite too deeply or the flesh will come away with the papery skin of the seed.

The rambutan season runs from May to September and in Thailand, they are mostly grown in Chanthaburi and Surat Thani.

Fruit in Asia FAQ

A bit of history, perhaps a taste-test and an idea on just what some of those Asian fruits really look like.

Asian fruit FAQ

What is a banana?
What is a cantaloupe?
What is a durian?
What is a guava?
What is a jackfruit?
What is a longan?
What is a mangosteen?
What is a papaya?
What is a pineapple?
What is a soursop?
What is a starfruit?
What is a watermelon?

Top of page