Thursday, October 8, 2009

Weird and wonderful autumnal Japanese fruit

I'm not usually a fruit person as most of you will know BUT I recently came across some really unusual fruit that I've never seen in my life and I just had to try it.
I love experimenting with different foods (apart from cows tongue & cartilage) and Japan is such a fab place to do so so on my last supermarket trip I filled my basket with some weird and wonderful.
So here's what I bought:

Japanese persimmon fruit

i) Persimmon or kaki (柿) in Japanese. I have to admit I had never even heard of the English translation. Apparently they grow in the US too but not England! A persimmon looks like an orange tomato but harder to touch, shinier and a tougher skin. I ended up googling "how to eat a persimmon fruit" and the opinions seemed mixed as to whether you should have to peel the skin or not. Apparently if they're ripe yopu should be able to eat skin and all. Just use a towel as I made a right mess. Opinion: delicious or as they say in Japan "oishieeeeeeee"!

Fresh figs, I'm hooked!

ii) Fresh figs or ichijiku in Japanese. Call me ignorant but I've only ever had the dry variety and thought they only grew figs in the Middle East. So I googled "how to eat fresh figs" and again opinions were mixed some saying skin on, some skin off. So I ate a whole punnet one night, they were so nice BUT warning! I didn't realise they had that same cleansing effect that prunes have. WOOOO! One a day next time.

Purple potato? No! Japanese akebi fruit

iii) Akebi (あけび). This was the weirdest looking thing. A chubby shaped fruit the size of a small potato, rich purple in colour, soft to the touch. The akebi fruit is a product of the chocolate akebi vine (or apparently chocolate vine in English) and before you start thinking no it doesn't produce chocolate as well.

Inside of an akebi fruit

Open it up and the inside there is a mushy jelly containig hundreds of black pips. Now I just took a scoop full of the inside pips and all but the pips are really bitter so I spat them out. Maybe you're supposed to scoop out the pips as well and just eat the white bit leftover (which isn't much!) and tastes a bit like a banana, not sweet at all. If anyone could enlighten me!

Japanese Dragonfruit (the pink one at the bottom)

iv) Japanese Dragonfruit. Another weird looking one. Bright pink with soft spikey leaves on the outside. At ¥395 (about £2.70) each this has got to be a special one.

When you cut it open its a real WOW, bright bright purple/pink watery inside with black pips.

Inside of Japanese dragonfruit

Unlike the akebi you can eat the inside with no pip problems. It is sweet and has a similar consistency to watermelon but not quite as crunchy. Yum but still doesn't beat the figs and persimmon.

v) Chestnuts or kuri (栗) in Japanese. I've only had them roasted at Christmas time back home but here they boil them. Yes BOIL! Some teachers brought a huge bag of them into school pre-boiled. So all you do is cut them in half with a sharp knife and then scoop the inside out with a teaspoon. They actually taste great.

Mighty Japanese chestnuts

Kuri-gohan or Japanese chestnut rice is also abundant right now. Again one of my teachers bought in a huge container of kuri-gohan which we devoured in seconds at lunch. YUM!

Japanese pears are also a bit odd. They look like huge apples and are much crunchier than the European variety (which they call LaFrance pear- uhh? do you Japanese think they're only grown in France or something?!)


  1. Hi Jessica! If the persimmon is really soft, remove the top. Just suck the pulp and juice and leave the skin. I learned that in Cyprus. You can find lots of figs there too.

  2. Oooh now there's an idea! I'll try it next time, just stocked the fridge with another bag of very ripes ones.

    PS Think my Japanese colleagues were horrified with me eating the skin. They just don't seem to eat any fruit skin here, even apples!

    Thanks Dolly