Vegetation Profile: Langsat

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Langsat are ovoid, roundish orbs around five centimeters in diameter, usually found in clusters of two to thirty fruits. Each round fruit is covered by yellowish, thick, leathery skin. Underneath the skin, the fruit is divided into five or six slices of translucent, juicy flesh. The flesh is slightly acidic in taste, although ripe specimens are sweeter. Green, seeds are present in around half of the segments, usually taking up a small portion of the segment although some seeds take up the entire segment’s volume. In contrast with the sweet-sour flavor of the fruit’s flesh, the seeds are extremely bitter.

I recently discovered Langsat or trai bon bon at Cho Han (Han Market) in Da Nang. The vendor who I was buying guavas from insisted I try a langsat and began peeling one before I could say no thanks. I popped the fleshy fruit in my mouth and fell head over heels instantly. The langsat was ripe and simultaneously sweet and tart—sort of like a perfectly sweetened grapefruit. I bought a kilo for 25,000 VND and polished them off much too soon.

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