P for Pulasan!

Pulasan, ripe


What is this red, thick-skinned and slightly spiky tropical fruit?

Is a rambutan? Is it a lychee? Or some bizarre mini red durian?

No… it’s Pulasan!

*cricket chirps*

If you don’t know what a pulasan is, I don’t blame you. Heck, this fruit is indigenious to Malaysia and South-East Asia in general, but most locals don’t even know that it exists either, much less what it tastes like.

Anyway, if I were writing some expat-explores-Malaysia blog, I’d probably start talking about the scientific name and whats not, but hey, the link to Wikipedia is already up there. I’m not in the mood to repeat stuff I don’t need to repeat.

I’d run into pulasan a few times before, but this is the first time I’ve seen it for a long while, so I bought some. But I am starting a story in the middle… let start from the beginning.

So yeah I went for a hike up Broga Hill and after hiking me and the biking group I was with decided to whip out our folding bikes and go explore Pekan Broga on bike.

Shame it was so hot, but we did run into an interesting stall:

I love poky little stalls like these, especially when they sell local produce. So after we caught our breath from trying to bike up the evil hill slope we toddled over to spend some money.

Most of the produce is local, so we have, from top left to bottom right: Papaya, Wild Durian, Sweet Potato and our topic of today, Pulasan, which was promptly mistaken for rambutans by most of my group.

Anyway, I decided to buy some home, along with those wild durians, but fortunately (or unfortunately) I was spared having to figure out how to carry durians and one kilo of pulasan on my non-carrier fitted bike down the hill and all along the route back to where we had left our cars. The calvary showed up, and the appearance of our backup vehicle meant my purchases could hitch a ride.

Cycling with a durian dangling from each handlebar would have made for a great picture though.

Back home, I opened up the pulasan for a try. The technique is identical to the rambutan opening technique: make a little break in the thick skin with a thumb or forefinger, (the pulasan skin is thicker than the rambutan’s), then twist the skin with your wrists turning in opposite directions. The weakness you introduced in the break should let the skin break off like so:

As you can see this thing does look heck a lot like rambutan, down the inside fruit. I prefer it to rambutan though, the flesh is sweeter, thicker and doesn’t have the annoying peeling skin thing. Also, the lack of hair is definitely a plus. Not as messy.

For bonus points, the seed of the pulasan is edible!

It tastes quite nice, kind of like a green, raw almond nut. I wonder if I can collect enough pulasan seeds next time? I could roast them and try and make pulasan butter or something…

Incidentally,I just noticed the local naming scheme for tropical fruits. Duri-an (Malay: duri = thorn), Rambutan (Malay: rambut = hair) and Pulasan (Malay: pulas = twist). So logical.

I wish we kept our naming scheme more consistent across more fruits. Imagine the possibilities…