Coming to Vietnam, an agricultural producing country, means that you will have a chance to taste plenty of fruits. And if you are coming to Hanoi, congratulations, you will soon be in the heart of a fruit land! As Hanoi is the capital city, most kinds of specialties from different provinces can be found here. In this Milkshake #3, continuing to help you get through July and August, we will show you three very common, delicious, healthy and cooling Hanoi summer fruits. Let’s start with lychee.
Lychee is a fragrantly sweet flavored fresh fruit with inevitable but easy-to-remove rind. In fact, you may find canned lychee in your hometown supermarkets all along the year. However, the process of canning may take away the perfume-like flavor of this fruit, so it would be the best if you can eat lychee fresh. In Vietnam, lychee is most famous in Hai Duong, Bac Giang and Hung Yen as the fruit grown in these provinces is usually sweeter and more tasty than those in other places.
Fun fact: Lychee is the favorite fruit of Yang Guifei, one of the four beauties of ancient China. In the past, lychee from Vietnam was often delivered by horse for Yang.
To choose the best lychee, you should check if the rind of the fruit looks fresh with pink-red (or just a bit brown) color; the taste should be sweet, and the smaller the seeds are, the more delicious the fruit is. The price per kilogram ranges from 35.000 VND to 50.000 VND.
2. Purple Mangosteen
Purple mangosteen is sweet and tangy, juicy, somewhat fibrous, with fluid-filled vesicles with an inedible, deep reddish-purple colored rind when ripe. This fruit is often grown in south of Vietnam and must travel a very long way to Hanoi, so don’t miss the chance to try it! Moreover, because purple mangosteen contains a variety of vitamins and antioxidants, it is the perfect fruit for keeping a healthy body and glowing skin.
Unfortunately, choosing the most tasty mangosteens is not an easy job. The following tips may be helpful for you. First, in general, the more sections there are inside a mangosteen, the more tasty it is. Therefore, you should try to buy the ones that have many sections. To check this criteria, take a look at the brown raised ridges that appear like flowers at the bottom of the fruit. The number of the “petals” corresponds with the number of sections in each mangosteen, and six or seven “petals” sound fine.
Second, the color of mangosteens’ rind is also an important factor. In fact, you may find two kinds of mangosteens here in Vietnam: dark purple skin and purple-brown skin, and the latter is better. Moreover, good mangosteens also have healthy-looking green caps, so don’t forget this feature when you buy this fruit. Last but not least, try pressing mildly on the fruit. If you can feel the slight softness of the mangosteen, it is the one for you.
The above two fruits are all sweet types. What if you are big fans of sour fruits? The next one is totally for you.
Dracontomelon, or sấu in Vietnamese, is one of the most famous fruits of Hanoi. Differing from the two above fruits, dracontomelon is really sour and often served as a souring agent or a candied treat. At the early stage of dracontomelon, it is either cooked with soup or made into siro. Especially, dracontomelon can be cooked with pork and herb, making a delicious dish in Hanoians’ traditional meals. Moreover, in late summer when this fruit ripes, it arrives at a deliciously sour taste that is good for creating drinks, foods, and snacks. Peeled then sugared or salted dracontomelon fruits are the favorite junk food of many people. This process also helps preserve the dracontomelon for a longer time to allow consumption even up to a year when properly stored.
Sugared or salted dry dracontomelon (Vietnamese: Ô mai sấu) is often bought in bulk by tourists as a Hanoi specialty. In the Old Quarter, Hang Duong Street is the most famous place of Ô mai as making Ô mai is a long lasting tradition of families on this street. Ô mai Hồng Lam (Number 11, Hang Duong Street) is a trustworthy store with around 6 different flavors of dracontomelon. Interestingly, you can freely taste these flavors before making your choices. The prices range from 30.000VND – 60.000VND per a box, depending on its weight.
Hurry up, dracontomelon is here waiting for you to bring them home!