Monday, October 8, 2012

Mystery Fruit #5: Dragonfruit (and making it into Sorbet)

Any guesses why it's called Dragonfruit?

Oddly, the first time I encountered dragonfruit was in my company's lunchroom back in Texas. My friend's husband was a top chef in Austin, and a potential supplier brought him a basket of tempting goodies. That's how my friend showed up at work one day with a pinkish fruit sporting a sticker saying, "Hi! I'm a Pitaya." When she cut into it, we were all amazed that the firm but juicy innards were generously studded with black seeds. After she sliced it up, we each enjoyed a small sliver. I wonder if my memory is failing me, because in my recollection, this pitaya had absolutely no scales and was smooth skinned.

Flash forwards more than a decade, when I saw a dragonfruit hanging out at a hotel breakfast buffet in Malaysia. This fruit is made for adding some flair to a table. Bright pink with the distinct scales that give dragonfruit its name, you can't help but notice it. I immediately thought back to the pitaya I'd had years before. How could I forget all those seeds? It's the same fruit but goes by a different name here in Southeast Asia.

When my oldest boy saw it for the first time, he nodded sagely and commented, "The rarest of all fruits." Huh?? It turns out that in the ultra-popular game Fruit Ninja, the appearance of a dragon fruit is both random and rare. Slicing it is worth 50 points and an unlocked King Dragon Blade.

Kool-aid colors but made by Mother Nature

When you slice into it in real life, you'll find flesh that's either white or a brilliant, radioactive magenta hue. The reddish-purple one is supposedly sweeter. But to be honest, the flavor doesn't really match the promise of its color. With something that vivid, you'd expect a taste that would knock your socks off. You'd expect the essence of cotton candy or baby unicorn breath or, at the very least, sweet syrupy goodness. While it's refreshing, it's actually quite bland.

It has the same texture as a kiwi. So, just scoop out the innards with a spoon and eat it up. The seeds are so small that they don't bug you at all.

Then, I was inspired to turn this fruit into a sorbet and add some oomph to its flavor. Plus, I am getting more and more obsessed with all sorts of frozen concoctions. What this dragonfruit needs is a little sweetness, the kick of fresh mint, and the subtle flavor of white wine.  When I was done, the sorbet tasted the way I'd imagined the unadulterated fruit to be. So very delicious!

Dragonfruit-Mint-White Wine Sorbet

Dragonfruit-Mint-White Wine Sorbet
2 cups water
¾ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon glucose (can substitute 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup)
Juice of 1 large or 2 medium lemons
2-3 sprigs of fresh mint
⅓ pound fresh Dragonfruit flesh cut into small pieces, no skin
½ cup white wine

Combine the water and sugar in a pot and heat on stove until sugar completely dissolves. Stir in glucose and lemon juice until dissolved. Drop in whole springs of fresh mint. Let mint steep for 5-10 minutes, tasting until the mint flavor is a little stronger than suits you. Remove mint and cool liquid completely in the refrigerator.

In a blender, puree the dragonfruit. Add in the cooled liquid mixture and white wine. Blend everything up. If the mixture is too warm, put it in the refrigerator to cool to 40F. (Do not skip the cooling step if you, like me, are working in a semi-airconditioned tropical kitchen.)

Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer's instructions. 

If you don't have an ice cream maker, pour mixture into a 13 x 9 inch pan and place in freezer. Every 20 minutes, take the pan out and scrape the frozen mixture with a fork until all the frozen pieces are broken into small shavings and mixed with the remaining liquid. Place back into freezer. Continue to scrape every 20 minutes and freeze until no liquid remains.

Makes about 2 cups. Eat as soon as possible as the sorbet will get progressively harder and the mint flavor diminishes.

No artificial food coloring, seriously.

Related Posts:
Mystery Fruit #1: Ciku
Mystery Fruit #2: Elixir of Immortality
Mystery Fruit #3: Passion Fruit
Mystery Fruit #4: Mangosteen

This post is part of "Foodie Tuesday" on Inside Journeys. Check it out for more delicious ideas.


  1. Wow that sorbet looks scrumptious. I much prefer the red dragon fruit over the white one.

  2. How interesting. We grow this in North Qld. where I live, but I have only seen the white fleshed one. It was the same where we had them in Laos as well. I quite like them in a fruit salad, but as you say they are quite bland. Perfect for a frozen concoction!

  3. How kind of you to help the fruit realize its true taste! I love seeing and trying fruits that are exotic to us form North America.

  4. How kind of you to help the fruit realize its true taste! I love seeing and trying fruits that are exotic to us form North America.

  5. I've seen Dragonfruit used on cooking shows but I've not had it yet. It is absolutely gorgeous for sure! I liked your description "baby unicorn breath" - that was brilliant! :)

  6. I've never had or even seen dragonfruit - cool name, eh? - but I love the color. I doubt I've seen any fruit that color. Beautiful. The texture does look a bit like kiwi. Thanks for the recipe. I'm in NYC for a few weeks, will see if I see it in the Asian market and give it a try.
    Thanks for linking up this week, Michele!

  7. Gorgeous color and interesting texture. I'm looking forward to finding and trying the Dragon Fruit. Thanks for introducing us to this delicacy.

  8. I guess this is another new one for me. Don't think I've come across one of these beauties before. Look almost too pretty to eat, but I don't think I could resist. Cute "Hi! I'm a Pitaya" sticker.


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