It seemed that the best way to get started was to buy several different types of fruit from the fruit sellers and conduct a taste test. Clockwise from the top is Mangosteen, Rambuten (Hairy Fruit) and Rose Apple.
Jack Fruit has a sweet flavor and firm flesh. The bulbs grow inside of pods that average in weight from 15 to 20 pounds but that can weigh as much as 100 pounds. It is believed to be the largest tree borne fruit. It's only downside is a slight smell of decay, but it isn't hard to get past the odor because the fruit is so delicious.
Fruit sellers cut the bulbs from the fibrous interior of the pods which also contain a sticky white sap:
Their efforts yield these delicious results:
Mangosteens are a round purple fruit. The outer skin is rather thick and rubbery. Once the rind is removed the fruit inside is white and segmented and is similar to an orange. The fruit is sweet and juicy and the segments often contain up to four seeds, although I haven't found find any seeds in the mangosteen that I've eaten.
Rambutens or Hairy Fruit are round and the leather like outer skin is covered with pliable spines which look like hairs. The colors of this fruit range from pale green to yellow to red. To prepare the rambuten, make a 1/4 inch cut all the way around the fruit and peel off the skin. It comes away very easily revealing a white fruit that looks like a small egg. I found the easiest way to prepare the fruit was to slice it into quarters and cut away the pit inside. The texture and flavor of the rambuten is very much like a grape.
The rose apple resembles an apple in color and skin type, but is shaped more like a pear. The flesh is white and crisp and juicy with a mild sweet flavor reminiscent of an apple. The texture is somewhere between an apple and watermelon.
My absolute favorite of all the fruits I have tried is the Dragon Fruit. It is oval shaped with a bright green and pink outer skin. The fruit inside is white and full of tiny black seeds. To prepare Dragon Fruit, simple slice into quarters and peel off the skin which easily comes away. The flesh is similar in texture to a pear with a bit of watermelon added for good measure, while the seeds add a wonderful crunch. The flavor is light, mild and very refreshing.
If you ever have the chance to try any of these tropical fruits, I highly recommend that you seize the opportunity. They are are nutritious and delicious. With only a few weeks to spend in Thailand, I am making it a point to eat at least one of these tropical delights every day.