The most distinguishing feature of the rambutan, a native of Malaysia but grown widely in Southeast Asia, is its long, dense red tendrils. The fruit, about 5 cm in diameter, is named from the Malay for ‘hair of the head’. Related to the lychee and the longan, it has a juicy whitish pulp, which is mildly sweet to refreshingly acidic, depending on the variety, surrounding a single inedible seed. Rambutans are mostly eaten fresh or added to fruit salads, but can also be served in a syrup or cooked and served with meat or vegetables. To prepare, cut in half, just through the skin, then twist in half. Choose brightly coloured fruit with fleshy tendrils. Remove the flesh and halve to remove the seed. Store for only a short time in a plastic bag in the fridge—they are best eaten as soon as possible after buying as they perish easily.
Also known as — hairy lychee