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Chinatown Fruit Report-2012

j
jumpingmonk Apr 19, 2012 06:01 AM

Okay here is the annual place to discuss fruit (and related) finds made in Ctown this year (reports of interesting fruits found in other areas are OK too) I'll begin

I'm not really sure if this count's as a fruit report, but it is something I've known about for a few weeks, and might be of interest. It concerns Kam Man, the supermarket on Canal between Mulberry and Mott, for at least the last month or so (probably more, but I've only been visiting that long) the herb section near the counter has had a tub of unshelled walnuts of surprising quality. Not only are they tasty (provided you know how to weigh nuts in your hand to make sure you don't get any withered ones) but a lot of them are HUGE, like ping pong ball sized (and a fair number are even larger, I've picked up ones that are the size of small apricots.) It would probably take a bontanist (like me) to notice this, but quite a few nuts also seem to be from trees that are part (possibly even all) other species (not breeds, actual species) many of which result in nuts with alternate, often delicios variations on a "normal" walnuts flavor (like a walnut that has the sweetness of a pecan while still having a normal walnuts oliyness.)

other than that, the normal stuff, Jackfruits are in as are those itsy bitsy mangoes and apples. Most sellers have mangosteens too by now, though again mostly frozen ones. Only semi odd fruit I've seen have been bunches market as champagne grapes that don't look much like them ones I know. there a bit bigger for one, and for a second theyre green (the ones I know are always purple)

  1. j
    jumpingmonk Apr 19, 2012 07:21 AM

    How to tell which walnut species you are looking at (for buttertart)

    Okay here is a quick thumb guide to what each type of walnut looks like based on the likey other parent (in all cases, the primary parent will be assumed to be the common Englsih or Persian walnut, Juglans regina.

    1. Manchurian walnut, J. mandshurica. Walnuts that are part to all this have a sort of top shape, a lot sharper and more tapered than the shape of a normal walnut. they tend to have a very sharp point to the tip and often have much deeper pits on the sides than a pure english see this link for a pic of purebred manchurians, this will give you an idea of what I am talking about. These are the ones with the sweetish flavor

    http://www.biolib.cz/IMG/GAL/12785.jpg
    half breeds wont be as severe (though I found a few that would cont as spitting images). Incidentally there may be some special signifcance to these, as I recall seeing two manchurian walnuts that had bee shined up sitting in a tray in a Jewelry shop in Flushng. There are also a few that have the inside structure of these, but you probably should hope you DON'T get any of those, as the combenation of the tighter, more woody internal shell structure with the more hevily ridged kernel of the standard nut results in a nut where the kernel is basically completely surrounded by woody shell in each fold, so it cannot be gotten out without smashing the nut to smithereens (and usually destroying the insides in the process)

    2. Iron Walnut, J. regina silligata. Tecnically this is a subsepcies of the common walnut, but it is different enough to warrant idetification. The nuts of these tend to be a bit flattened, and be quite a bit wider across the seam than along it (try looking at the nut from the bottom to see this). In cases of extrmeley high (in this case, possibly pure) silligata, the sides will actually bulge out from from the seam so that, from the end, the nut looks almost rectangular or hourglass shaped. These tase pretty standard though they are a bit plumper and richer than regular and have a higher precentage of nuts that are "light" inside (there is something in the skin of walnut kernels that I sometimes have a problem with, and I have discovered that the lighter the color of the skin, the less of whatever it is is there, and the easier the nuts go down for me)

    3. Black Walnut J, nigra (?) Black walnut is not native to China, but it is exproted so commonly as a nursery tree I can easily believe that some may have gotten to China. They are not common but I have found nuts that have the shape of those (a slightly flattened sphere, little to no ridge on the seam) in the mix, so they may have some in there. It is also possible that these are examples of the Paradox walnut, a hybrid of the English and Hind's Walnut, J. hindsii (native to Northern California) most paradox are sterile (that's why it's so popular for stree plantings, no pollen or nuts to worry about fouling up the street) but there are fertile strains. I have a few pure Hind's I got to plant in my yard, and the resemblence is so uncanny that if the two get mixed up (as has happened a few times) I need to look hard to tell which is which) Havent tasted a lot of these (they are rare, so what I find I have largely put aside to plant) but the 1-2 I did (because they were cracked) had a touch of the darker black walnut/hinds walnut taste

    There are also some that are almost completely smooth (no seam on the ridge, almost no indents in the shell) but what the other parent for those is I have no clue (the only really smooth walnut I know of with that shape is hyper rare, and only grows in South America (somewhere in the Andes, I think)

    Finally, while it has no bearing on taste, the orchard they are getting these from must be pretty old, as I am finding a fair number of nuts with 3-4 seams, rather than the usual 2 (that normally only starts happening after the tree gets to be 100 years old, or more.)

    21 Replies
    1. re: jumpingmonk
      buttertart Apr 19, 2012 04:34 PM

      This is fascinating, I will definitely be snooping around the walnuts this weekend. The area on the first floor over by the wall that the BBQ meats stand is on, just past the cashiers?

      1. re: buttertart
        j
        jumpingmonk Apr 19, 2012 04:48 PM

        That's the place They keep them in a big drum on the corner.

        BTW there are also some that are unusually oval and pointed at both ends, byut you may want to pass on those (they are really hard to open)

        1. re: jumpingmonk
          buttertart Apr 19, 2012 04:52 PM

          Thanks for the tips.

          1. re: buttertart
            buttertart Apr 24, 2012 05:56 AM

            The weather Sunday led to a change of plans (lunch at Szechuan Gourmet on 39th i/o Chinatown) but will definitely get there this weekend. Nice to see this in the Digest, btw!

      2. re: jumpingmonk
        s
        sergeik Jun 11, 2012 08:14 AM

        So here is a question - what's the best way to pick out good/ripe/ready to eat mangosteens? We bought a bag this weekend but I was left underwhelmed... However, I don't really know what I am looking for.
        Same questions for pieces of Jack fruit flesh (I didn't want to buy the whole fruit) - should the pulp be yellow or orange? Both seemed good, although with somewhat different banana/pineapple flavored undertone. Anyone tried roasting the seeds - I know it can be done, but just curious if it is worth the trouble.
        By the way, tons of cherries, lychees, mangoes, rambutans and water apples out there in addition to the two fruit already mentioned.
        Thanks!

        1. re: sergeik
          j
          jumpingmonk Jun 11, 2012 03:33 PM

          The best advice I can give with regard to the mangosteens is to try and press them. The more they give, the better they usually are. A redder color is also often a good sign. Also try and avoid any that have lots of splashes of bright yellow sap on them (and toss any that have any inside). That sap at best tastes so terrible it will spoil the fruit, it is possibly extremely poisionous (magosteen is close cousin to the gamboage tree, whose similarly colored sap is used as a pigment. In fact you can actually dye with mangosteen sap, I've done it.)
          I tend to go for orange, but to be honest I've never paid much attention to the color when I buy, I simply assumed that some were brighter than others)
          And no I have never roasted Jackfruit seeds. I prefer to plant them (they make a nice houseplant) I've heard durian seeds can be roasted as well.

          1. re: jumpingmonk
            s
            sergeik Jun 11, 2012 03:53 PM

            Thanks! I'll see how this goes next time - perhaps buying mangosteens in US is just hopeless - I am not convinced they travel all that well. I keep hearing how great they are and the flavor of pure mangosteen juice is certainly nice, but the few times I tried buying fresh fruit I've been left unimpressed. At least, I don't think I've seen any orange sap - just very deep purple colored skin.
            Will let you know how the roasting goes - I am not sure I want to see what my cats will do with a house plant, but thanks for the suggestion!

            1. re: sergeik
              buttertart Jun 11, 2012 04:35 PM

              jumpingmonk, toxicity of the plant an issue? Wouldn't want any distressing feline consequences.

              1. re: buttertart
                j
                jumpingmonk Jun 12, 2012 04:34 AM

                As far as I know, Jackfruit leaves are not toxic. Neither is the sap as far as I can tell by reading, though that is incredbly sticky (In parts of Asia they use it to glue broken china together and mend leaks in things like boats and buckets.

              2. re: sergeik
                j
                jumpingmonk Jun 11, 2012 04:42 PM

                I wouldn't worry about that; I have a cat myself, and it never bothered the tree. The only really troublesom thing about them is that the leaves have little hairs on the bottom that stick like velcro, so if they break up while you are cleaning, they can be a bit hard to get off your shirt.
                But I agree about the mangosteens. When I hear the stories about them (that sick people will crawl from thier beds for them, or that if you don't want them when offered them, you basically beyond all hope.) I simply assume that either the fruits lose a LOT in thier freezing or the people of Malaysia need a lot less to get them out of their deathbeds than we do. I don't think even Queen Victoria was able to get a truly good one. and they broght an actuall tree for her and built a greenhouse around it so the fruit could reach peak ripeness and still reach her That is in fact true, the Palm House at Kew Gardens was actually built to allow a mangosteen tree to reach maturity for the queen. as it said, it didn't work well, though the Conquito Palm did, There is a huge one there, and it produces tons of nuts at the right season (I know I got clobbered by several when I was there)

                1. re: jumpingmonk
                  buttertart Jun 11, 2012 04:47 PM

                  I only ever had one that blew my mind in HK. Lychees are still my favorite fruit, in any case. The "loosies" have had quite a few chicken tongue/rice grain seed ones in them lately.

                  1. re: jumpingmonk
                    s
                    sergeik Jun 11, 2012 04:58 PM

                    our cats are extra fluffy - i think they are more likely to stick to the leaves than me.
                    i think i'll just have to travel to south east asia to see how these taste fresh without the irradiation or whatever is done to them for US consumption - hopefully this will happen before the whole death bed scenario. i am no queen Victoria so I don't see anyone shipping a tree out for me and i seem to be a tad too cramped to have a greenhouse - but it would make for a nice story to tell the kiddos later.
                    lychees were good as always, but a bit too sweet. rambutans were excellent this time.

                    1. re: sergeik
                      j
                      jumpingmonk Jun 12, 2012 04:44 AM

                      I've got the feeling I'll have to do the same thing if I ever want to taste my Keppel.

                      I tend to think the problems in this case isn't irradiation, it's freezing. Most of the mangosteens that enter this country are still frozen at some point, and as a result arent really ripe when they get here (they tend to be picked underripe, as fully ripe ones are too squishy for freezing. I remember reading a bit in the NY times dining section a few years ago to the effect that someone in south america had gotten USDA approval to sell mangosteens legally in the US. Those fruits likey are not ever frozen so they might be better. They might not be irradiated either, which would be great for me cause the seeds would still grow. I's also say that perhaps SE Asia has better strains of mangosteen than we get, but that is imppossible, as all mangosteen trees are the same. In the seeds in the fruit, there are asexual embryos as well as the sexually produced one, and the asexual ones always outgrow and kill the sexual one, so every mangosteen tree on the planet is a clone (this also means that, should a magosteen blight ever come into existance, the tree will likey go extinct since there will be no trees with restance.)

                      1. re: jumpingmonk
                        s
                        shirlockc Jun 12, 2012 06:55 AM

                        I have jack fruit seedlings (just planted them a few months ago) and my cat is ignoring them like most of the plants I have. The only one she has occasionally been interested in is my orchid -- the stick after the flower falls off, she uses it to rub her face.

                        Mangoes, persimmon, guava, sapota, pommelo, cactus pear, jack fruit are all growing in various pots on in my apartment. All courtesy of adventures in Chinatown fruiting.

                        1. re: shirlockc
                          j
                          jumpingmonk Jun 12, 2012 09:21 AM

                          White sapota (Casimora edulis) (round green fruit whitish insides) , brown sapote aka sapodilla or nispero (Manilkara zapota) (brown potato like fruit creamy brown, usually rock had flesh with long brownish black seeds) Mamey Sapote (Pouetria sapote (huge brown fruit, reddish insides gigantic brown seeds (nomally already craked and germinating, taste sort of like a watery sweet potato with sugar) or black sapote aka chocolate pudding fruit) (Diospyros digyna, looks like a persimmon with green skin and dark brown flesh) If the second, let me know when it gets big enough and I'll try and dig up a link on how to make chewing gum out of the sap. If the last, please let me know where you found them, I never actually tasted that one (had a chance, but passed and never saw them again).

                          At the moment, most of my trees are citrus or some sort or another, some yuzus some kabosus (maybe) some mango oranges, a lemon and a lot of wong pei both sweet and sour (though as I dropped the seed before planting I have no idea which trees are which)

                        2. re: jumpingmonk
                          s
                          sergeik Jun 12, 2012 07:11 AM

                          This would either imply that the trees are particularly well evolved against pathogens (unlikely as it's always a process of co-evolution) or that in instances of crisis the sexual reproducing plans will be selected for at least in that generation. Although, if truly most plants are clonal then the amount of diversity introduced that way would be minimal unless a very high recombination rate is programmed into the sexual reproduction mechanism of this specific plant... All of this is a guess as I know little about this plant.

                          1. re: sergeik
                            j
                            jumpingmonk Jun 12, 2012 09:11 AM

                            I suppose the second is possible, but they have yet to find a tree that had any gentic divergence from any other so that hypothetical method would, as you noted, not do much to add to the gentic diversity of the species, especially if all of the trees are homozygous (which is usually the case for plants derived from parthenogenic seed). The only method of variation possible becomes somaclonal, and even that relys on that variant being the one that "makes it" which is not really likey (there are a LOT of somatic embryos in each seed, and ony ONE makes it to maturity) Actually, if I was a far better botantanitst, with a much more skilled hand, and a supply of trees, it might be interesting to expose mangosteens to mutagenic compounds and methods to create delibrate variations, then propigate the resultant plantlets via embryo rescue, and see if any of the resultant variations were improved.

                          2. re: jumpingmonk
                            Ike Jun 15, 2012 09:51 AM

                            When I was in Thailand, I loved the mangosteens. They were delicious. The best fruit I've ever eaten (and durian is #2 for me; never been a huge fan of lychees or rumbutan). I would definitely crawl from my deathbed for some *fresh* Thai mangosteen. But they are very sensitive and easily-damaged. I've never bought the imported ones here in the U.S. because I figure they can't be worth it. And a few people have told me they're not as good as in Asia. I can see why. Freezing? And picking before properly ripe? No way. Heck, I wouldn't freeze a mangosteen for an hour, much less long enough to ship it to the U.S.

                            How about the durian? Is that as good as in Asia? Do any of these vendors sell small amounts? I'm not sure I want a whole one, although I've heard that durian, totally unlike mangosteen, DOES freeze well, so maybe a large amount is not such a problem -- I can make space in my freezer for THAT. The price seems to have leaped significantly in the past few years, hasn't it? I thought I saw it as cheap as $1.90/lb in the past and now it's $3-$5. So a whole durian runs at least $17, generally. I like durian but I don't know if I $17 like it, you know?

                            1. re: Ike
                              hewins Jul 11, 2012 07:18 AM

                              I also had mangosteen in Thailand and fell in love with what they call "queen of all fruits" (where durian is "king"). That was in 2010 and I hadn't had any mangosteen here in NYC until this summer. I had two very different experiences with them so far this summer:

                              I found mangosteen at an outdoor market in Chinatown right under the Manhattan bridge (sorta between Henry and E Broadway). I was so excited to see them I bought three bags without knowing how to really evaluate their ripeness/freshness. I got home with them and had one that was decent and the rest in that first bag were horrible: rotten, hard, ruined, etc. I was really disappointed. Also, not knowing their fragility, I left them out of the fridge overnight and the rest were destroyed. That was maybe three weeks ago.

                              Then last weekend I found some again in Flushing at a market on the corner of Main st and 40th rd. I spoke to the vendor and asked how I'd know they are good and he said what some of you have said above, that, if they are soft, they'll be good. I told him what happened to my last purchase and he told me that they have to be kept in the fridge. And even in the fridge they only last around three days. Outside of a fridge, he said, they'll only last 5 hours. (As a side note, I asked, then, why his were not being refrigerated and he replied, "I have to sell them.") So, this time I bought one bag and took them home. They are all I'd hoped for. Very good, all ripe, very tasty. Just as my wife and I remembered them from our honeymoon in Thailand. So, it can be done.

                              1. re: hewins
                                buttertart Jul 11, 2012 02:43 PM

                                Good to know.

                      2. re: sergeik
                        b
                        BuildingMyBento Aug 30, 2012 09:30 AM

                        Only since 2008 have mangosteens been sold in the states; previously they were suspected of providing a haven for Asian fruit flies. I've had them many times in SE Asia, usually quite sweet with a hint of green grape, but what's your take on them here?

                2. w
                  wewwew Apr 19, 2012 05:17 PM

                  Why have the the early mango been greeny this season?

                  1. p
                    passthatversace Apr 19, 2012 07:07 PM

                    Have anyone seen pomelos in Chinatown? I stocked up the last time I was there (in early March), but my stash is low and I think pomelos may be out of season now

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: passthatversace
                      buttertart Apr 20, 2012 10:24 AM

                      Pomelos are a fall-winter fruit, I think. I'll have a look round.

                      1. re: buttertart
                        n
                        northNJfoodie Apr 24, 2012 08:03 AM

                        I have seen the rounder pummelos in in NY/NJ in the past week. The type that is flatter are out of season. I think the flatter ones are sweeter and have thicker slices

                        1. re: northNJfoodie
                          z
                          zoe111 May 16, 2012 05:23 PM

                          i was told that pomelos labeled with a star decal are esp good ones. i love pomelos.

                      2. re: passthatversace
                        s
                        small h Apr 24, 2012 12:10 PM

                        SE corner of Grand & Eldridge, today, $4.99. Also some very wrinkly mangoes, if you're in the market for very wrinkly mangoes.

                        1. re: small h
                          p
                          passthatversace Apr 24, 2012 09:27 PM

                          Thank you for the update! :)

                          1. re: passthatversace
                            s
                            small h Apr 25, 2012 07:26 AM

                            You're welcome. Anxiously awaiting lychees over here.

                            1. re: small h
                              buttertart Apr 25, 2012 10:15 AM

                              Me tooo

                              1. re: buttertart
                                j
                                jumpingmonk Apr 25, 2012 01:13 PM

                                Just back from my weekly trip. No sign of lychess, but one of the stands on Mulberry had the first Rambutans in. Didn't buy any though (those brigt pink ones with the green hair always seem a little hard and sour to me, I'll wait for the red ones)
                                Did see pomelos at a few stands along the east side of grand (the bit between Chrystie and Allen) At least I think I did (Since I'm not a big fan of pomelos, I wasn't looking too closely, some of them could have been grapefruit).
                                On I brief non fruit note, I saw to my dismay (as I was on the bus on my way back to Grand Central) the Sun Cafe (on Allen near Houston) was shuttered. I hope that's just temporary, I really like thier glutinous rice dumplings.
                                The one big of good fruit news I have locally is that one of the markets near me got in a load of old type satsumas (the little kind)

                                1. re: jumpingmonk
                                  j
                                  jsemkow Apr 25, 2012 02:59 PM

                                  Wow! Who knew thee was so much neat info about walnuts, one of my favorites! Thanks SO MUCH.

                                  1. re: jsemkow
                                    j
                                    jumpingmonk Apr 25, 2012 04:14 PM

                                    One more tip I finally figured out, after studying all of my empty shells (I tend to simply split nuts along the seam with a knife when eating them, so the two shell halves are usually intact when I am done). The "rock nuts" (the ones with the super tight insides, which make the nuts almost impossible to extract tend to be oval, on the small size (abt 3cm, according to my tape measure) and have reduced "wings" (the ridge along the seam). So you probably want to not buy any that look like that.
                                    One last thing. In some Chinese marekts you will see bags (I haven't yet seen them loose, though if I did it would not suprise me), of round hazelnut sized nuts marked as "small walnut" (you can also sometimes find them already shelled) these are actually seeds of the Chinese Hickory, (Carya cathayensis) which actually makes them close cousin to the pecan. However I REALLY don't reccomend these unless you are fond of hickory nuts (and I don't mean pecans, they are atypical). They have a strong flavor that can only be described as "woody" all the time. The fact that they are invariably pre roasted, cracked (not shelled but cracked) and salted doesn't help matters (the cracking means the nuts have air getting in and are often rancid by the time you get them).

                        2. re: passthatversace
                          s
                          shirlockc May 11, 2012 08:27 PM

                          In the grocery store on Mott just south of Elizabeth (?). It's on the east side and sort of new-ish. Had pomelos for $2.99 each. They were pretty big.

                        3. u
                          uwsister Apr 25, 2012 08:05 PM

                          I don't have much to contribute now, but I wanted to say this is one of the threads I missed the most while I'd been away from Chowhound the past few months, and I'm so grateful for all the regular posters' contributions to this thread. Basically, I love this thread and everyone in it.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: uwsister
                            buttertart Apr 26, 2012 10:13 AM

                            It is one of the best, thanks in large part to the incredible breadth and depth of knowledge jumpingmonk so kindly shares.

                          2. DaveCook May 7, 2012 08:46 PM

                            The fruit stand outside Tu Quynh Pharmacy, 230 Grand St. (at the Bowery), today offered not only their usual Thai mon thong durians, at $3.50 per pound, but also the lesser-seen Malaysian musang king, $7.50 per pound.

                            Tu Quynh, and at least one Grand St. sidewalk vendor, also had wong pei, at $10 per pound, though only the rounder and sourer of these two varieties:
                            http://www.eatingintranslation.com/2011/06/sidewalk-fruit-vendor.html

                            Hai Sein, 249-253 Grand St. (at Chrystie St.) had several plump soursops, at $6 per pound.

                            Dave Cook
                            www.EatingInTranslation.com

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: DaveCook
                              j
                              jumpingmonk May 8, 2012 04:52 AM

                              For reasons I'n not 100% clear on, a lot of the dealers in Chinatown don't seem to differentiate between the two kinds of wampee; it is pretty common to see rounds and longs bound together in the same bunches. I do not defintively know if you can ask for one or the other (the one time I bought wampee, I was confused about the etiquette of purchase and assumed you had to buy the fruit by the whole rubber banded bunch (that was one expensive trip to the fruit stall) but they probably will, in whichy case, it's simply a matter of keeping your eyes peeled and grabbing longs as they show up.

                              1. re: jumpingmonk
                                j
                                jumpingmonk May 9, 2012 01:07 PM

                                Was just in the area today. FYI the Asian Mart on Mulberry (next the park, maybe one store further towards Canal) also had the King durians (they've actyually had them for months, but as I am not a huge durian fan, I was not paying attention and just though their durians looked unusually small and oddly formed). And they only want $7 per pound.
                                I took a look at the wampees at Tu Quynh as well, You are mostly right that they are primarily the round, sour ones, but a few of the bunches had a stem or two of the sweet oval ones, often on the side touching the display (where they were hidden).. I did not buy (I find even the sweet ones too sour for me, and the pot of seedlings from the first batch I tried is already too full) but they are there.

                                1. re: jumpingmonk
                                  buttertart May 9, 2012 02:51 PM

                                  Still no litchis, huh? I was sick last weekend and didn't get to the city.

                                  1. re: buttertart
                                    j
                                    jumpingmonk May 9, 2012 03:15 PM

                                    No, plenty of rambutans, but no lychees.

                                  2. re: jumpingmonk
                                    DaveCook May 10, 2012 07:17 AM

                                    Yes, I'd noted the appearance of the musang king (a.k.a. cat mountain king) at Asia Market in February, but I'd thought it was a one-off. Thanks for staying alert on your regular rounds!

                                    Dave Cook
                                    www.EatingInTranslation.com

                                    1. re: DaveCook
                                      j
                                      jumpingmonk May 10, 2012 09:30 AM

                                      My pleasure. Incidentally, if you see any durians that look REALLY weird, please let me know. I have heard vague rumors that some of the Indoneasian countries are thinking of trying some of the other eight known edible species on the interantional market. In particualr keep your eyes out for red durian D. Dulcis, pulu D. Kutujensis (more popular in some parts of Borneo than the standard zibethius, plus that one is already being cultivated in Australia. and D. Testudinarium. Don't have a lot of info on that last one, but based on what I have it's probably quite small, maybe no larger than an orange (it may be even smaller, to the point where it can pass for a rambutan) so a bite size durian. (the other interesting thing about it is where it grows, unlike the normal kind, which grow on the branches of the tree, D.testudinarium bears its flowers and fruits on the trunk, more or less at ground level.)

                                    2. re: jumpingmonk
                                      j
                                      jumpingmonk Jun 13, 2012 03:27 PM

                                      Update, 6/13/12

                                      1. Today I actually bought some wong pei, and based on my tasting (I made a point to find a bunch that had both) It looks like the advice on the website Dave found may be inaccurate (long are sweet round are sour) I ate a few of each on the train back home. To me the round were the sweeter of the two. they were sour, but not unpleasantly so. Whereas the long one I popped in my mouth almost made the choke; it was literally so acidic it burned my throat going down. there seems to be a lot of variation from stem to stem, so sweet sour may be a crapshoot. I did note however that rounds tend to taste more resinous than longs do, and that longs tend to peel easier. For what that is worth.

                                      Most of the Jambus appear to be gone, the season must be winding down. The stand in front of Tin Duc still has some, but they are beginning to look a lot worse for wear (though the price has dropped, they are now $3 a pound)

                                      1. re: jumpingmonk
                                        DaveCook Jun 14, 2012 07:03 AM

                                        After making my wong pei purchases last year, I turned as usual to Julia Morton's Fruits of Warm Climates ( www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/wampee.html ), but my impressions of flavor were based on my own tastings. Also on the word of a vendor, who cautioned me before I tried a round one that it was "suan" -- sour. Observing my expression afterward, he, and a lady who might have been his wife, both got a smile out of that.

                                        I seem to recall that these wong pei were grown in Florida. Speculation: Commercial harvests have been sought only in recent years, and to raise yields of easily-bruised fruit, cultivars with various characteristics have been cross-pollinated, or not strictly segregated. Or, as jumpingmonk concisely puts it, "sweet sour may be a crapshoot."

                                        Dave Cook
                                        www.EatingInTranslation.com

                                        1. re: DaveCook
                                          j
                                          jumpingmonk Jun 14, 2012 08:32 AM

                                          That actually makes a lot of sense. It would also explain those fruits that are sort of "in the middle", not really long but not truly round either. I imagine the one that burned me was a "Suan Tsao"; maybe they keep a few of those as pollinators (if wampee are anything like some of thier distant citrus cousins, sour fruit often goes with larger numbers or greater hardiness of pollen) For what It's worth I also noticed that those fruits that have very obvios "struts" (those five ridges on the skin that come out of the blossom end on some fruits) tend to be sourer than ones that are completely smooth. The darker skinned ones also seem sweeter than the paler, but that could just be a ripeness thing.

                                  3. re: DaveCook
                                    DaveCook Jun 26, 2012 07:16 PM

                                    The fruit stand outside Tu Quynh still has jambu, to use jumpingmonk's name. These are smaller, more slender, and colored a deeper, more promising red than the specimens seen near Canal and Mulberry. Sadly, the flavor was not much more intense, and still suggested jumpingmonk's "hothouse strawberries."

                                    Dave Cook
                                    www.EatingInTranslation.com

                                    1. re: DaveCook
                                      j
                                      jumpingmonk Jun 28, 2012 10:42 AM

                                      I'll have to take your word on it; yesterday (as last week) the stand in front of Tu Quynh was empty (maybe he takes Wendsdays off now) Next week, I am planning to go in on Thursday, not Wendsday ( I have NO desire to try and deal with the crowds that will be milling around NYC waiting for a spot to see the fireworks) so maybe I'll bump into him then.

                                  4. s
                                    shirlockc May 11, 2012 08:35 PM

                                    Alrighty everyone. I saw a new thing today -- the fruit lady on Canal and Mulberry (SW corner) had these small gourd-like looking fruits ~ 2 inches, larger ones were maybe 4 inches long. The sign said Chinese Apples @ $5/lbs. I have never seen these before so of course had to try it. I bought one that was likely not as ripe as it could have been and it tasted a bit pear-ish and like an unripe strawberry. I think if it was riper, it could be sweeter. Fruit lady said it was supposed to be very sweet. I attach a photo, anyone know what this is?

                                     
                                     
                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: shirlockc
                                      DaveCook May 11, 2012 10:05 PM

                                      This is a member of the Myrtle family; rose apple, wax apple, water apple, Java apple, and bell fruit are colloquial names for several species. Here are two varieties from Bangkok:

                                      http://www.flickr.com/photos/eatingintranslation/3242876363/

                                      http://www.flickr.com/photos/eatingintranslation/3243737428/

                                      I've tried these in Xiamen (in Fujian province, China) and in Taipei, too. They're generally crisp, and moist if not juicy, but to me the sweetness is almost a trick of the mind: It's more a lack of any balancing tartness.

                                      Dave Cook
                                      www.EatingInTranslation.com

                                      1. re: DaveCook
                                        s
                                        shirlockc May 14, 2012 06:35 AM

                                        Thanks, Dave. My mom said in Taiwan it's called a Lin Wu. And you're perfectly right, there was more tart than sweet. Not sure if it would have been sweeter if I waited but I usually don't wait when it comes to food :)

                                        1. re: shirlockc
                                          buttertart May 14, 2012 10:02 AM

                                          Snow apples! Damnit, why wasn't I in Chinatown this weekend? Lian wu are one of my favorites, very cold they're so refreshing and have the most intriguing texture. Plus the color of them, seriously want a dress that color.

                                          1. re: buttertart
                                            j
                                            jumpingmonk May 16, 2012 01:53 PM

                                            Okay, Back from my weekly trip and I have a LOT to report

                                            1. I DID manage to get some Jambu (That's the name I learned it as) so I can now say I have tasted that as well. I thought it was OK, juicy, but a little weak of flavor (what there was sort of reminded me of hothouse strawberries, or the way the blueberries on the bushes in our yard (which are under hard stress, and so produce really inferior berries) taste. I was also a little dissapointed with how.......infertile they were. in the 2lbs of fruit I bought I managed to pull out a grand total of 3 seeds (not a big deal for one who is eating them, but I LIKE being able to plant the pits of my exotic fruit when I am done.). For the record, jambu also seem to be available at the fruit stand in front of Tin Duc (on Division street, about half a block east or so of Allen) and there they are $4 a pound (i.e. $1 less per pound than they are at the first fruit stand).

                                            2. By now pretty Much EVERYONE appears to have gotten Wang Pei in (though since the logan have shown up, and they look at a cursory glance much like Wang Pei, I may be overestimation. But there are a lot of them. Unfortunately, as Dave noted, they are all sour round ones (the bunches with the few long sweets the seller by Tu Quynh had have long since been sold, and the newer, larger bunches he has now are all sours.)

                                            3. Finally as Buttetart Hoped THE LICHEES ARE IN! At the moment it's the oval red kind, but the brown kind with the taper should show up soon. Actually, it may be due to the weird weather we've been having, but I think this is the first time I've see all three of the Sapidacae fruits (lichees, longans, and rambutan) available at the same time.)

                                            1. re: jumpingmonk
                                              buttertart May 16, 2012 03:04 PM

                                              Yaaaaayyyyyy hao jile! Must get there this weekend. Yippee! Thanks, jumpingmonk!

                                              1. re: buttertart
                                                j
                                                jumpingmonk May 16, 2012 03:29 PM

                                                Oh, one thing I forgot, I didn't see the soursops, so the guy is probably out again.

                                                Actually, maybe I'll see how jambu work as a pie filling (I had to split all of the one ones I bought to find those pits, so I now have a big container filled with cut fruit. They are sort of cruncy like apples, maybe they cook like apples as well. Might be just what I need to balace out those dried white mulberries I bought last week.

                                                1. re: jumpingmonk
                                                  j
                                                  jumpingmonk May 23, 2012 01:24 PM

                                                  Update 5/23/12

                                                  The other kind of Lychees (the lighter more greenish ones) are in now as well.

                                                  The only newish fruit I saw today was something called a Gaya melon (or something like that) at a stand on Grand near Forsyth. Smallish (mosrly grapefruit sized, though 1-2 were a bit bigger) yellow rind with dark green spots. Didn't buy as I don't like melons (except watermelon)

                                                  1. re: jumpingmonk
                                                    buttertart May 23, 2012 02:34 PM

                                                    The lychees I got on Sunday are quite good. Big pits though. Not red red but the inside of the peels is unusually matte white.
                                                    Lots of excellent Rainier / Queen Anne cherries available too. Dragonfruit, those little yellow guavas, rambutan, mangosteen (have to say given the quality and the proportion of edible flesh to peel on these makes them out of my price range at $8 a pouund). (I love all melons with the exception of casabas but have only ever had one of the ones you describe and was underwhelmed.)

                                    2. buttertart May 29, 2012 04:36 PM

                                      LOTS of lychees on Sunday, loosies for cheap and ones in bunches with VERY fresh-looking leaves for $7 and $10 a lb (chicken-tongue pits, I presume, didn't see any country of origin designation or other ID by type). Lian wu too, a bit better shape, didn't buy any. Mangosteen ($8/lb), rambutan, black cherries from CA, Chilean pomegranates, Mexican avocados 4 for $5 at the stall at the corner of Bayard and Mulberry.

                                      11 Replies
                                      1. re: buttertart
                                        s
                                        small h May 29, 2012 04:49 PM

                                        I got some on Grand between Allen & Chrystie. They're very good, but not spectacular. The stand was selling 3lb bunches, but the seller was nice enough to collect a pound of loosies for me, $6.99.

                                        1. re: small h
                                          buttertart May 29, 2012 04:58 PM

                                          Small pits? Where's jumpingmonk when you need him ;-) ?

                                          1. re: buttertart
                                            s
                                            small h May 29, 2012 05:40 PM

                                            Pits are brown and about an inch long, shaped like a slim olive. Fruit is the color of a dusty strawberry.

                                            1. re: small h
                                              j
                                              jumpingmonk May 30, 2012 04:11 AM

                                              if they look like a slim olive, they probably aren't chicken tounge, those are much smaller and more withered.

                                              1. re: jumpingmonk
                                                buttertart May 30, 2012 10:18 AM

                                                The pits of those are aptly-named. Once in a while a couple turn up in a batch of loosies. Did you see the stemmed varieties this weekend, jumpingmonk?

                                                1. re: buttertart
                                                  j
                                                  jumpingmonk May 30, 2012 02:43 PM

                                                  I go on in Wensdays, not the weekend. But yes, I did see some stemmed ones the last time I was in the area. As for the odd chicken tounge in the loosies, that is too be expected. after all when fruits get knocked off of the stemmed bunches, where else would the go. In the hurly burly of the fruit market, it is hardly uncommon for the odd kunquat to get mixed into the pile of rambutans; having a lychee of one kind fall into the others must happen constantly.
                                                  I did not in fact GO to Chinatown this week (I heard good things about a little Turkish resturaunt in the West Village, and I don't have the edurance to go there and Chinatown in the same day. However, in fruit, I did note that as I was walking up to Union Square, one of the frut sellers is now selling genips (spanish limes, mamocillos, whatever you care to call them)
                                                  Finally a suggestion that might be of use to someone reading this thread regarding Cucumbers. Keep your eyes on the few SE Asian Greengrocers in Chinatown (particualrly the one on Bayard between Mott and Mulberry) in a little while they should be getting in those gigantic (Italian bread loaf sized) Kiva type cucumbers (those varities that have a yellow to brown skin with the kind of cracles on associates with cantalopes). Thanks to the weather we have been having, the Kiva's at the farmers markets are likey to be delayed (actually since most Kiva's like it long and warm, we may not get any at all). So if (like me) you are fond of Kiva cucumbers, those markets may be the only readily available supply this year)

                                                  1. re: jumpingmonk
                                                    buttertart May 30, 2012 03:03 PM

                                                    Do they taste like regular cukes?
                                                    Say, when is the best time to buy lotus root? I often get pieces that turn out to be moldy.

                                                    1. re: buttertart
                                                      j
                                                      jumpingmonk May 30, 2012 04:33 PM

                                                      Similar, sometimes with a slight melony taste. WAAY nicer in my opinion than the Lemon cuke (which I think tastes bitter). If you are toying with adding them to a vegetable garden, I'd say try and find the variety called Kaiser Alexandre; it's the northernmost variety I know of and so the most cold and short season tolerant.

                                                      I usually don't buy lotus root for myself, so I really have no idea

                                                      1. re: jumpingmonk
                                                        buttertart May 30, 2012 04:36 PM

                                                        They sound good, will keep an eye out. I know the store you mean.

                                                        1. re: buttertart
                                                          l
                                                          Larry Racies Jun 16, 2012 07:57 AM

                                                          FYI, beautiful lychees at $3/pound the first day and $4 the next at the pushcart at 23rd Street & 9th Avenue.

                                                          1. re: Larry Racies
                                                            j
                                                            jumpingmonk Jun 24, 2012 07:39 PM

                                                            updates (not a lot)
                                                            1. Tin Duc is now out of Jambu, so the season is probably over. On the bright side, I think the pits I planted have started to come up (the ones from the second bach have roots but I dont know how alive they actually are, as the roots are brown) but the pot I stuck the first pits in has now developed a pair of strange shiny purple leaved sprouts that are not oranges (the only other thing in the pot) so they have to be Jambu.

                                                            2. only semi new fruit I found was some preserved medlars sold by one of the candied haw sellers didn't actually manage to really eat any besides being saltier than I would like they smelled like they had be perseved in vodka.

                                      2. buttertart Jul 28, 2012 04:36 PM

                                        Lots of lychees, all loosies that I saw, 3 lbs/$9, black and Rainier (Royal Anne) cherries 2 lbs/$5,
                                        rambutan, mangosteen, dragon fruit, Taiwan guavas (the bright green largeish bumpy ones), and of possible special interest to jumpingmonk, lots of off the stem black grapes ID'd as Chinese. Kyoho? Dunno, had too much stuff by this time to try them. Should be the right time of year, though. All of this at the stall at the corner of Mulberry and Canal, southeast side.

                                        24 Replies
                                        1. re: buttertart
                                          j
                                          jumpingmonk Jul 28, 2012 09:45 PM

                                          At the stand on Chrystie (last Wed)

                                          There were soursops, thoguh not for sale (not ripe yet)
                                          Rambutans, small bananas, and a lage pile of those long melons with dark green skins (VERY ripe and squishy)

                                          1. re: jumpingmonk
                                            buttertart Jul 29, 2012 06:53 AM

                                            Did you see the remark about the black grapes, jumpingmonk?
                                            Lots of Champagne grapes, green and red too, I forgot.

                                            1. re: buttertart
                                              j
                                              jumpingmonk Jul 29, 2012 08:01 AM

                                              Yes I saw, may look into it next wed

                                              1. re: jumpingmonk
                                                buttertart Jul 29, 2012 08:41 AM

                                                Good.

                                                1. re: buttertart
                                                  l
                                                  looloopoo Aug 2, 2012 11:59 AM

                                                  The off-the-stem, inordinately round deep-purple grapes are muscadines, sometimes mislabeled as "Italian grapes," as I have seen previously. The green-skinned ones are scuppernongs, which are very closely related to muscadines, but are not as intensely flavored.

                                                  They are very fragrant with a juicy, slick flesh, though the skins are fairly thick and tannic. Do buy them when you see them - they are really something else.

                                                  1. re: looloopoo
                                                    buttertart Aug 3, 2012 02:46 PM

                                                    Inordinately round indeed. I will try them. North American types, right? So not the ones we're looking for.

                                          2. re: buttertart
                                            u
                                            uwsgrazer Aug 6, 2012 03:17 PM

                                            I'll be in Chinatown tomorrow afternoon. Are there still good lychees and cherries (black and Rainier) for sale? Same stall at the corner of Mulberry and Canal, SE corner?

                                            1. re: uwsgrazer
                                              buttertart Aug 6, 2012 04:56 PM

                                              I wasn't there this weekend but the lychees I bought a week ago from that stall were still fine when I had some just now. I'm sure you'll find what you want!

                                              1. re: buttertart
                                                u
                                                uwsgrazer Aug 7, 2012 05:08 AM

                                                Thanks, buttertart. I'll report back on my findings :)

                                                1. re: uwsgrazer
                                                  buttertart Aug 7, 2012 02:54 PM

                                                  Excellent!

                                                  1. re: buttertart
                                                    u
                                                    uwsgrazer Aug 7, 2012 09:37 PM

                                                    We loaded up! Here's what we bought:

                                                    strawberries
                                                    blueberries
                                                    lychees
                                                    cherries

                                                    I made a point to try at least some of everything tonight so I could report back quickly :)

                                                    We bought almost everything from the stall on the SE corner of Mulberry & Canal. We went back and forth between that stall and the one across the street (i.e., NE corner of Mulberry & Canal) for the lychees and the cherries. SO thought the lychees and cherries looked better at the NE location. I agreed on the lychees, but not the cherries. And since cherries were slightly cheaper on SE corner (2 lb / $2.50 vs. $3) we opted for SE stall. SO literally said "Well if buttertart says SE is better maybe we should buy the lychees there (even if they don't look as good)..." We were tempted to, but they just looked kind of small and dried up, so we opted for NE stall for that one item. Maybe we made a bad call?

                                                    Assessment:

                                                    Strawberries and blueberries were excellent and well-priced at $1.75 and $2 per pint, respectively.

                                                    Cherries were certainly good for the price (2 lb / $2.50). We didn't eat that many tonight so will need to try some more tomorrow to provide a more thoughtful review.

                                                    Lychees were okay. It's been a LONG time since I've eaten lychees and I guess I was fantasizing about fruit that was dripping in sweetness. Again, only sampled a few tonight so will have to eat more tomorrow to know for sure. Price: 2 lb / $5

                                                    This was our first time buying fruit from the stands. Thanks for giving us guidance on our first purchase!

                                                    1. re: uwsgrazer
                                                      j
                                                      jumpingmonk Aug 8, 2012 02:14 PM

                                                      Back from my own trip (basically from one end of Ctown to the other today

                                                      I confirmed the big purple and green grapes are muscadines and scuppernongs, both of which I have already had and not been particualrly fond of so I passed. I did manage to get a bunch of those little green grapes I had seen previosly, though not where I had seen them previosly (they were out of them at the stand on the corner of Mulberry across from the park, but they had some at the big fruit market under the el on East Broadway (the one that sort of fills the tunnel between the mall stores and the supermarket.)) but those were nothing special.
                                                      My only really interesting find was firmly in the vegatable catergory, as opposed to fruit. The veggies stand on the corner of East Broadway/Rutgers/Essex (basically outside of the front doors of Wing Shoon) had some truly impressive yard long beans. I have never seen yard longs so fat(about as big around as my finger) or even odder so rugose (to save you a dictionary search, that means ridged or wrinkly) A few of the ones in the bunch I bought are old enough I think I can save seed, so some of those are going in my Garden next year!
                                                      Speaking of Yard long beans, I had a question. I had always assumed that YL's were used more or less like green beans. That is they were picked immature and the whole pod was eaten (whether raw or braised or stir fried or whatever). But most of the YL's I saw today (I didn't buy any until I saw the ones I mentioned, but I was feeling pods all the way through the city) seemed way to mature to be eaten like that. They felt like they had progressed to the stage where the pods had gone spongy and they'd have to be shelled in order to eat the peas inside (despite the name YL beans are actually a kind of cowpea/crowder, so I imagine the seeds would be cookable in a manner similar to fresh black-eyed peas) is this also a way they are eaten in Chinese cuisine, or is it simply a matter of this being near the end of the YL season and veggie sellers selling stock that is actually too mature to be still in it's prime for use.
                                                      On a final, somewhat sad note, on my way back from getting the beans I noted two things. One, Overseas appears to have gone out of business, which is a pity (I wasn't a big fan of the food there, but it is always sad when a resturaunt goes out of business......at least until a better one come in in it's place!) The second thing is that Ling Kee (the little store that sold Chinese Jerkey) appears to have been taken over by Malaysia Jerky. If this is merely a change of name and/or ownnership, no real worry. If they have also taken on Malaysia's recipie's however it is a real disaster in my books (I have always though Ling Kee made some of the best pork jerkey in Chinatown, and Malaysia, some of the worst)

                                                      1. re: jumpingmonk
                                                        buttertart Aug 8, 2012 02:38 PM

                                                        Re the beans, the late and highly lamented South China Garden often had what looked like blackeyed peas in their house soup. Maybe for something like that?

                                                        1. re: buttertart
                                                          j
                                                          jumpingmonk Aug 8, 2012 03:04 PM

                                                          Well, the Chinese certainly eat a lot of Dried Cowpeas, of varios types (pretty much every cowpea I have ever grown in my garden was from seed I found in a bag somewhere in Chinatown; they seem to be the only source for types that will actually grow around here (most cowpeas require too long a season to produce up here in the ne, but for some reason, every now and again when I dump lefotvers from Ctown in my garden, I get a producer plant (two last year, two this) but those are actually usually "regular" cowpeas once whose pods are more normal lengths (you can actually tell by looking at them, long beans have long seeds. If they looked like black eyed peas, they probably were, that IS the commonest variety sold. You certianly could do something like that, but if they beans looked normal for blackeyes they probably didn't.
                                                          Given that the bundles were sort of mixed (some still young and snappy, some really spongy and saggy some in between) my money is on the season winding down and some past prime produce getting through. It isn't really all that different from the fact that, if you are buying bitter melons, every now and again you find one in the pile that was harvested a little too late, so that the sides are sort of squishy and the innards have gone from the white cottonty stuff they usually are when sold for eating to the bright red slimy stuff that tells you that the seed is mature (if they go any farther, you'll defintey know; when fully ripe all the way through, bitter melon skins turn bright orange (well the green ones do, I don't know about the white ones) )

                                                          1. re: jumpingmonk
                                                            j
                                                            jumpingmonk Aug 15, 2012 12:53 PM

                                                            Today I picked up a few bunched of more "normal" yard long beans, and they sort of confirm my theory, as a lot of them were a lot crisper and those proved to be less mature than the few that were spongy. Though it is clear that the ones from last week WERE a different cultivar, as the seed in those was white with brown eyes while the "normal ones" that are semi ripe have seed that is pink to reddish purple (one had seed that was dark enough I can assume that it will dry down to black, but that is the exception, most are pink)

                                                        2. re: jumpingmonk
                                                          u
                                                          uwsgrazer Aug 11, 2012 05:42 PM

                                                          I went again to Chinatown and used the opportunity to pick up some more fruit. The cherries didn't look so good, but the grapes looked juicy and attractive so I bought some. They are large and dark, so I figure they are probably muscadines (based on jumpingmonk's post). I've only tried one so far but I'm with you, jumpingmonk. I didn't find it so tasty. The skin is quite tough and so I had to peel the grape first. The flesh was okay, but with the seeds it seems more trouble than it's worth. I prefer the black seedless grapes at TJ's ...

                                                        3. re: uwsgrazer
                                                          buttertart Aug 8, 2012 02:35 PM

                                                          Nice to be thought of! I finished off the ones I got last night and they were all good. I don't remember them being any sweeter in Taipei (where I only saw them on their branches with very fresh leaves, than which they do not get any better).
                                                          I buy fruit, veg, and pork in Chinatown, great quality and good prices.
                                                          Ps best not to buy the cheapest lychees if there are several on offer, I go for the midrange if so.
                                                          Pps the inside of the peels of the lychees I just finished was the most gorgeous fuchsia/pink -- jumpingmonk, is that a variety marker?

                                                          1. re: buttertart
                                                            j
                                                            jumpingmonk Aug 8, 2012 02:46 PM

                                                            Not really. In any batch of either type, there will be some with white inside peels, some with brown, some with fuscia. In general, the redder the outside skin, the redder the inside peel. Freshness can also play a part, the insides can get pinker as the fruit gets riper. I tend to go more with fruit shape and ouside skin texture to tell one type from the other.

                                                            1. re: jumpingmonk
                                                              buttertart Aug 8, 2012 03:00 PM

                                                              Every one of these was fuchsia. En masse they smelled faintly of roses.. So what combination of rounded/poiinty, rough/smooth is usually best?
                                                              Also, why is the fruit in a sort of whorl around the pit?

                                                              1. re: buttertart
                                                                j
                                                                jumpingmonk Aug 10, 2012 05:20 AM

                                                                Sorry for the delay in replying (every now and then my computer and the CH mainframe have a disagreement where they "freeze" what I see when I sign on, so I don't know that people have replied.)
                                                                I'd say which is best is really a matter of personal opnion. In my experiance the one's with the smoother skin and rounder shape with the "shoulders" (wider on the top than the bottom) are sweeter and more fragrant. On the other hand the browner, spikier ones keep a bit longer. with thier thicker skin, they keep the inside fruits moisture in for longer.
                                                                As for why there is the whorl, that's simply a function of the fruit's anatomy. What we think of as the "fruit" of a lychee is actually, botanically an aril. In the wild the true wild ancestors of lychees actually would, upon ripening split along the bottom and that fleshy bit would dangle down with the seed on the end, to entice animals especially flying frugavores (like megabats). In fact if you look at a rambutan (which is after all a close lychee relative) you can still see the seam(one the other side of the pacific, the Jamaician akee fruit (which like lychees,rambutans,and longans is also in the Sapidacae, or Soapberry, family) still does the full open and dangle.) the whorl is simply caused by how the lobes of that aril attach to the pit).

                                                                1. re: jumpingmonk
                                                                  buttertart Aug 10, 2012 05:16 PM

                                                                  Very interesting. I wondered if ackee were related to the lychee.

                                                            2. re: buttertart
                                                              u
                                                              uwsgrazer Aug 11, 2012 05:36 PM

                                                              I remember having absolutely, dripping-sweet lychees in Guangzhou one summer when I was living there briefly. They were sold in paper bags / baskets and must have been 1 kilo in weight. I remember taking them home and polishing off the entire bag all by myself in one sitting.

                                                              Another, even more distant memory was when my mother and I returned to the States form Hong Kong one summer. A relative had given us a bunch of lychees before we left HK. I remember sitting on the plane frantically scarfing down all the lychees before the plane landed, as I was reminded that we would not be able to clear customs with our fruit.

                                                              1. re: uwsgrazer
                                                                buttertart Aug 11, 2012 05:48 PM

                                                                I would have done the same thing. Happily. I got 2 lb for $5 today from my usual stand, lots of people had good-looking ones at the same price.

                                                                1. re: buttertart
                                                                  j
                                                                  jumpingmonk Aug 22, 2012 01:16 PM

                                                                  Just a little note that Ten Hing (or whatever it's called the grocery store/ vegetable stand on Grand between Bowery and Chrystie, downtown side) has some of those giant brown skinned cucumbers I mentioned earlier.

                                                2. a
                                                  AgentUmami Aug 24, 2012 02:46 PM

                                                  A bit random, but....I live in the neighborhood and never see Calamansi fruit for sale sans tree. I can't keep pillaging my own little tree every time I want a sour plum drink. Any leads or will I have to make do with the juice from the Filipino grocery?

                                                  And, jumpingmonk, you were my Chinatown fruit spirit guide long before I moved to the neighborhood. Thanks for that.

                                                  Have you ever run across Malaysian durian here? The bitter, unctuous kind with small seeds?

                                                  7 Replies
                                                  1. re: AgentUmami
                                                    j
                                                    jumpingmonk Aug 24, 2012 04:41 PM

                                                    Well, I've seen a smaller kind of durinan from time to time called the "civet" kind. Whether that is the same as the Malaysian one I do not know.

                                                    As for the Calamansi, that's a puzzler. I'm not sure I've EVER seen Calamansi fruit, on tree or off. Unless by "Calamasi" you mean that thing that looks like a tiny round orange (that's tecnically a Caldomin, but I have neard people call those Calamansi as well, and use them the same way as the green skinned organge fleshed kind in the picture) You could buy sour kumquat's I suppose, and just use the juice. Japanese Kabosu's also have a simialr flavor profile, and some Japanese supermarkets do carry them (though they tend to be so expensive I'm not usre it they would be a viable option if you are drinking that beverage of yours on a regualr basis)

                                                    1. re: jumpingmonk
                                                      a
                                                      AgentUmami Aug 24, 2012 06:31 PM

                                                      Yes, I do mean the Caldomin trees common in Chinatown. I've always known them as Calamansi for some reason. Weird that the trees are everywhere, but not the fruit.

                                                      Interesting about the civet durian. I'll have to try it. I happened to be in Singapore at the height of the durian season recently and was amazed at the diversity in flavor, size and color.

                                                      1. re: AgentUmami
                                                        j
                                                        jumpingmonk Aug 24, 2012 08:04 PM

                                                        Well, outside of SE Asia, a lot of people don't realize Caldomin's are even edible. I know it shocked me when I found out. We had a Caldomin tree in our house for many years, and I don't think that anyone in the house even CONSIDERED eating the fruits. So I imagine there may just not be the market for them. The Filipono communtiy probably considers it an estatz option only acceptable when the real deal is avaiable (and with Calamansi the flavor getting so popular, supplies of the fresh fruit are probably aready being grown out in Florida and California, and hitting the markets around here is probably only a matter of time. To the Chinese, they probably are looked on like failed kumquats (kumquats without the sweet pith) valued mostly for the fact that they can fruit as small housetrees (actually, I'm not sure I know what a full size caldomin tree looks like i.e. how big they can get when allowed to grow to thier maximum height) and do so perpetually, filling houses with lucky fruit (remember, red and orange are auspicios colors). The idea of selling the fruit en mass probably doesn't occur to them; caldolmin fruits value is visual, not gustatory.

                                                        1. re: jumpingmonk
                                                          j
                                                          jumpingmonk Aug 30, 2012 05:39 AM

                                                          photo of the cukes

                                                           
                                                    2. re: AgentUmami
                                                      p
                                                      Pan Sep 12, 2012 09:15 PM

                                                      I don't think any Malaysian durian are ever imported here, only the Thai ones.

                                                      1. re: Pan
                                                        DaveCook Sep 12, 2012 10:16 PM

                                                        Asia Market, on Mulberry, and the fruit stand outside the Tu Quynh Pharmacy, on Grand, have carried musang king durians. Musang is the Malaysian name -- in Singapore they're called cat mountain king -- so I'm reasonably sure these were imported from Malaysia and not Thailand.

                                                        Dave Cook
                                                        www.EatingInTranslation.com

                                                        1. re: DaveCook
                                                          p
                                                          Pan Sep 12, 2012 10:59 PM

                                                          That's interesting. Musang means civet cat in Malay. I still think I'll wait till I'm back in Southeast Asia before I try durian again, though.

                                                    3. buttertart Sep 3, 2012 05:17 PM

                                                      These white peaches (I hope they're good, they're CA), small pluots, a dragon fruit that's the kind that's red inside, and some lychees came home with me today. The stalls are packed with just about everything you could desire, including some terrific looking tangerines (Mulberry St east corner stand).
                                                      Basket $2.95 at the excellent housewares and this and that store, KK Discount, down the same side of the street toward Bayard. Full range of Kiwi knoves in the glass case by the cash register too.

                                                       
                                                      8 Replies
                                                      1. re: buttertart
                                                        j
                                                        jumpingmonk Sep 3, 2012 06:59 PM

                                                        I'm assuming the pluots are the greenish fruit in the upper right.
                                                        I didn't mention it previosly as it was not a Ctown (or even NYC) find but there is a new sort of fig my mom brough home for me last monday that may bear purchase if you see them. Ouside they have yellow and green stripes (they actually look a lot like the stripes you see on one of those verigated lemons that are so trendy). inside they are a deep, deep mulberry purple (far darker than the pink shade normal for most figs) If you see them, get them, as they are much sweeter than most of the figs in the markets now.

                                                        1. re: jumpingmonk
                                                          buttertart Sep 4, 2012 03:53 PM

                                                          I'm keeping an eye out, believe you me!

                                                          1. re: buttertart
                                                            j
                                                            jumpingmonk Sep 5, 2012 01:21 PM

                                                            Back from another weekly trip. Didn't go as far as normal today; I was distressed that the resturaunt I was planning to go to for lunch (Teriyaki on 12th and 3rd) had been taken over by Dai Lang from a few blocks over so I couldn't get the Undon I had been looking forward to (don't get me wrong, the shrimp udon I did get from them was perfectly fine (if a little soupy), but I seriosly LOVED the "crab" udon Teriyaki made), and that left me a little bitter and in no real mood to do deep exploring. The only really new fruit I noted was that the big stand on Chrystie street between Grand and Hester (across from the park) has begun getting in giant pomellos again. Oh and I think the stand on Grand by the Pharmacy has begun getting in cherimoyas (though they looked rock hard)

                                                        2. re: buttertart
                                                          b
                                                          BuildingMyBento Sep 6, 2012 10:25 PM

                                                          Any salak? The taste and texture to me are like eating one of those lime candies that resemble mike and Ike, but with spackle added.

                                                          1. re: BuildingMyBento
                                                            j
                                                            jumpingmonk Sep 7, 2012 05:48 AM

                                                            Funny you should mention that; I have been combing Ctown for salak ever since I started going there. As yet I have seen no fruit. However, one of the stands on Bowery (the one between Mott and Hester on the East side of the street, outside the conveniance store), has a mural of fruits they sell, and there is a salak picture there. Most likely this is wishful thinking, or else and example of an old add offering a product that is no longer available (like the little herb shop somewhere up in the Grand/Mott area whose window display still has a card advertising Garden of Songs Ginger,Green Tea, and Cough Sweets; a product I KNOW hasn't been on the market for almost a decade.) but it does make one hope........

                                                            1. re: BuildingMyBento
                                                              buttertart Sep 7, 2012 03:50 PM

                                                              I have never had salak, but since I like beets because they taste like dirt, I would be happy to try them based on your description alone.

                                                              1. re: buttertart
                                                                p
                                                                Pan Sep 12, 2012 09:12 PM

                                                                Salak are nothing like beets. I love beets but have never found salak more than mediocre.

                                                                1. re: Pan
                                                                  buttertart Sep 13, 2012 03:29 PM

                                                                  I'll take your word for it, since southeast Asia is not somewhere I'm liable to end up soon. Damnit.

                                                          2. a
                                                            AgentUmami Sep 12, 2012 09:33 AM

                                                            I scored a palette of Saturn (aka 'donut') peaches for $5 yesterday at the market beneath the Manhattan Bridge. The chutney simmers as I write this and I had enough leftover for a freezer bag full of smoothie-ready peach chunks.

                                                            The vendor was on the north side near Division St.

                                                            9 Replies
                                                            1. re: AgentUmami
                                                              j
                                                              jumpingmonk Sep 12, 2012 01:08 PM

                                                              Was in roughly the same area area today, but didn't see anything I considered particualrly noteworthy. Those small pale green apple sized melons are back, but that's about all that seemed new. (BTW I think you mean "pallet". A "palette" is the thing an artist puts their paints on.)

                                                              1. re: jumpingmonk
                                                                buttertart Sep 12, 2012 04:43 PM

                                                                I saw those peaches last weekend. The only other new item was cherimoyas, the kind that look like a cross between a pine cone and a hand grenade.

                                                                1. re: buttertart
                                                                  s
                                                                  small h Sep 14, 2012 08:09 AM

                                                                  There are some enormous, softball-sized peaches for sale on Grand near Allen. They have a very nice, delicate flavor, but they're a little on the dry side (for peaches).

                                                                  1. re: small h
                                                                    buttertart Sep 14, 2012 12:11 PM

                                                                    The peaches I got that look like longevity peaches were terrific once they ripened (about 5 days at room temp).

                                                                  2. re: buttertart
                                                                    u
                                                                    UpTheIrons666 Sep 14, 2012 08:40 AM

                                                                    I am specifically looking for cherimoyas. I may take a trip to Chinatown this weekend. Were these located 'under the Manhattan bridge' or are they also available at Canal street? I cannot find any on Long Island.

                                                                    1. re: UpTheIrons666
                                                                      j
                                                                      jumpingmonk Sep 14, 2012 09:19 AM

                                                                      I saw some at the stand in front of the drugstore on the corner of bowery and grand, they may be elsewhere by now. Also bear in mind I'm not great at telling cherimoyas from atemoyas sugar apples or the related annoaceous fruits on sight so I can only say I THINK they were cherimoyas.

                                                                      1. re: UpTheIrons666
                                                                        buttertart Sep 14, 2012 12:05 PM

                                                                        They were at the stand on the southeast side of Mulberry and Canal. I've had good luck with everything I've bought there. They're the type called shijia in Chinese.

                                                                    2. re: jumpingmonk
                                                                      a
                                                                      AgentUmami Sep 14, 2012 07:12 AM

                                                                      A misused homophone, hmmmm... Yes, the peaches made a mean chutney, but were unsuitable for painting. :)

                                                                      1. re: AgentUmami
                                                                        j
                                                                        jumpingmonk Sep 14, 2012 08:38 AM

                                                                        Though ironically, the yellow sap that seeps out of some mangosteens can be used as a subsititute for the yellow pigment gamboage (which actually comes from a closely related species) I once collected the dried sap dribbles from a bag of fruit I bought, dissolved them in alchohol, filtered it, and used the result for dyeing work.

                                                                  3. w
                                                                    wewwew Sep 12, 2012 03:41 PM

                                                                    At Sieu Thi Viet nam, 247 Grand, I found a good selection of herbs for Pho and Mi Quang Ga.

                                                                    1. nokitchen Sep 14, 2012 09:15 AM

                                                                      I'm really learning a lot from this thread and I thank you and all the other contributors for it. I was wondering if there's a good primer out there on non-Western produce -- sort of a beginner's field guide of what to look for and when, how to prepare what you find, what more traditional produce something might make an appealing substitution for, etc. Having all that information in one place would be great.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: nokitchen
                                                                        buttertart Sep 14, 2012 12:15 PM

                                                                        http://www.amazon.com/A-Cooks-Guide-Asian-Vegetables/dp/0794600786/ref=tmm_pap_img_popover?ie=UTF8&qid=1347649802&sr=1-4#_
                                                                        looks good (I don't have it, i have old ones I got in HK a million years ago

                                                                        )

                                                                        Also interesting --
                                                                        http://www.amazon.com/Field-Guide-Pro...

                                                                      2. buttertart Sep 20, 2012 04:56 PM

                                                                        jumpingmonk, are pomegranates climacteric? I got 2 and the seeds in the one I cut into were barely pink. Let the other one kick around for a while or give up?

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: buttertart
                                                                          j
                                                                          jumpingmonk Sep 20, 2012 05:03 PM

                                                                          Yeah, it sonds like they are a bit underripe. Let it sit for a week or two. then try. Though I freely admit that, as I don't like pomegranates myself, I do n ot buy them, so I'm just guessing here.

                                                                          1. re: jumpingmonk
                                                                            buttertart Sep 21, 2012 08:33 AM

                                                                            I will. Thanks!

                                                                            1. re: buttertart
                                                                              j
                                                                              jumpingmonk Oct 18, 2012 07:37 PM

                                                                              Not really a "fruit" report per se but the big F&V stand on Chrystie between Grand and Hester has wing beans (aty least, I think they are wing beans based on the size, they could be wing peas/asparagus peas)

                                                                        2. buttertart Dec 31, 2012 04:36 PM

                                                                          BTW I got mangosteens at the stand at the corner of Mulberry and Bayard and they are remarkably good. $7/lb.

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