… or are you just glad to see me? I’m glad to have made the acquaintance of this tropical fruit, known also as a Strawberry Pear, Nanettikafruit, Thanh Long, as well as the more common names of Dragonfruit (or Dragon Fruit), and Pitaya. Apparently it comes in several varieties and can be grown in many tropical parts of the world, but the organic one I spied today (costing a double-take-inducing $12/pound!) at Madison Market had red skin and and stunning neon-magenta flesh dotted with small black seeds.
The flavor and texture immediately reminded me of a giant kiwi fruit, although they are apparently not relatives. The dragonfruit grows on a cactus, while kiwi is from a vine. Nonetheless, the slightly grainy, watery flesh and seeds were very reminiscent. The flavor is mildly sweet and tangy, not particularly intense.
While tasty enough to eat out of hand, at that price I don’t think many of us will be slicing pitaya up for an everyday breakfast. It would definitely be attention grabbing in a fruit salad or as a garnish. After puzzling about what I wanted to do with it, I landed on a quick sorbet that I served with a crepe filled with chocolate ganache. To make the the sorbet I just pureed the flesh with quite a bit of honey and a few grains of sea salt, and pushed it through a fine meshed sieve. You could put it in an ice cream maker, but I was in a hurry, so I poured it out on a baking sheet, set it level in the freezer, and agitated it with a fork every few minutes while I prepared the crepes, until it firmed up nicely. The sorbet developed a slightly gelatinous texture, which I liked but some (Snacky Pants, are you with me?) might find unappealing. That must be due to some chemical property of the fruit, but I don’t know the technical explanation. I think it would also make a great ice cream, though of course the color would become pastel. If I made it again I think I would use agave nectar instead of honey for the milder flavor and the nice symmetry of using two cactus-based ingredients. Shot of tequila anyone?