Needless to say, Cambodia – as a tropical country – has a wealth of fresh fruits on daily offer. When you go to a local market you will be astounded by the beautiful colors and aromas, and – sometimes – the somewhat strange shape of the fruits. You can also let fruits mix into a smoothie, locally known as touk kolok.
The country’s tropical fruits keep a court of their own; with the durian a revered king and the mangosteen an honored queen. To complete the royal fruit family, the lemut should be named prince and milk fruit bestowed the honor of princess.
Here are a few examples of fruits available in Cambodia, including their taste:
Cambodian mango’s are smaller than the Thai, Malaysian or Indian ones. Washing your hands in the pulp makes them baby-soft!
Taste: Sweet, one of the most delicious fruits in the world.
A fantastic looking fruit, with a pinkish-purple shell, and a milky white inside with black seeds.
Taste: Semi-sweet. Very delicate taste; much better than the watery taste of the ones in Europe.
Mangosteen (the ‘Queen’)
A hard and thick avocado-coloured shell, revealing what must be one of the most delicious offerings on this planet.
Taste: A unique sweet taste, but not too much – just right. Soft flesh which melts on your tongue.
This fruit acquired its name from the five pointed star shape when cut across the middle of the fruit. It has a waxy, golden yellow to green color skin.
Taste: Slightly tangy and sweet, when fully ripe.
Available from street stalls and markets all over Cambodia. The pulp is white translucent. There’s also the ones wrapped in plastic (for drying).
Taste: Sweet and juicy, with a relatively large inedible seed.
The hairy sibling of the lychee, and very similar to it, but often substantially larger.
One of the most visually striking fruits.
Taste: Almost the same as lychees. Somewhat juicier.
The word Pineapple is derived from the word pina, which was used to describe a pine cone by the Spanish.
Taste: Sweet and juicy.
A melon like fruit enclosed in a thin skin that varies in color from green to orange to rose. The flesh is bright orange or pinkish.
Papayas are a rich source of vitamin A and C.
An egg-shaped fruit that is also called a purple granadilla, the passion fruit has a brittle, wrinkled purple-brown rind enclosing flesh-covered seeds.
Taste: An intense aromatic flavor, like guava.
Milk Fruit (the ‘Princess’)
Milk fruit is available only in Cambodia and Vietnam. The underbelly of the leaf is a greenish purple hue, while the top is a deep green.
Taste: The creamy white flesh tastes juicy and sweet.
The size of a decent melon. The peel is sliced off in two movements with a very sharp knife. Pinkish pulp containing many large seeds.
Taste: Less bitter than the European variety; even a bit sweet. Very nice.
Most coconuts are not used for eating, but rather drinking only. Available from street hawkers and often in restaurants.
Taste: The drink tastes great, is very refreshing, and healthy!
Many different varieties, but all are a lot smaller than the South-American variety. Many are used for the daily offering to Buddha.
Taste: Sweeter than the South-American and African ones.
Durian (the ‘King’)
Has a penetrating stench, but is somehow appreciated as a delicacy. The spike-armored shell is thick and very hard to get through.
Taste: the worse they smell the better they taste!
A dark-yellow to brown-red smooth skin. They are somewhat smaller than lychees. The pulp is also translucent white, but the black seed inside is larger than the lychee’s one.
Taste: Very similar to lychees.
This fruit can be round, oval or irregular heart shaped.
Extremely juicy and seedy, and hence quite a messy fruit to eat.
Taste: As the name suggests, sour.
Lemut (the ‘Prince’)
Oval shaped fruit brought to South-East Asia from Central America by the Spaniards. The fruit is super sweet and the texture is that of an ultra fine pear.
Taste: Sweet with a hint of cinnamon. Lovely!
Saray (Asian pear)
Is it an apple or is it a pear? Khmer say it’s neither. It’s a Saray and that’s it.
Taste: Imagine the crispness of an apple combined with the juices of a pear, but less sweet. Very refreshing!
About the size of a small tomato, with a striking orange colour.
Taste: Surprisingly similar to a mango. Somewhat less sweet and more neutral in taste.
Very nice and mellow.
Thin, edible skin, which looks waxy and turns pink as the fruit ripens. The flesh is divided into 4 sections, each with a single seed. The flesh is firm and white.
Taste: Mild flavor and crisp texture.