This gorgeous cactus fruit is also known as the pitaya or strawberry pear. But I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan. When people talk about dragonfruit, they're usually praising its health benefits rather than the taste. And while dragonfruit is a good source of vitamin C and high in dietary fiber, I'm not keen on paying high exotic fruit prices for something that's going to taste bland. Hubby Kris, however, is so mesmerized by the dragonfruit's beauty that he has to buy one everytime he sees it.
There are three varieties of dragonfruit: red skin/white flesh (most common variety), red skin/red flesh, and yellow skin/white flesh. We've tried the red skin varieties and in my opinion they both tasted pretty boring and a bit sour. I gave my dragonfruit-lovin' hubby a chance for his rebuttal here, but he eventually admitted to me that his main reason for liking dragonfruit is for its "good looks" (typical man response). But the brilliant magenta flesh of the hylocereus costaricensis variety is rather stunning, especially as part of an exotic fruit plate or used as a colorful garnish.
While on vacation in Vancouver last month, we found dragonfruit at several produce markets but I only let Kris buy one. Since we had no clue how to choose a ripe one, Kris just picked the prettiest one in the bunch, cradling it in his arms all the way to the cash register. We then forgot about it for several days, too busy being tourists in Vancouver. My mom finally reminded us to eat it before it went bad.
Very easy to eat, just cut in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon:
I was going to let Kris have the entire thing, but he convinced me to give it another try. I was pleasantly surprised - this was the first dragonfruit I'd had that was actually sweet. The flavor and texture reminded me of a juicy pear with crunchy edible seeds (like a kiwi). Good thing we'd forgotten about the dragonfruit for a few days, giving it time to properly ripen. The stem and a few edges of the outside leaves were starting to dry up, and the fruit had a bit of give when you pressed it. I guess most of the commercially available dragonfruit are sold underripe, which is probably why they've always tasted sour to me.
I found out later that dragonfruit is also known for its natural laxative properties. Good thing we only ate one!
Where to buy:
Specialty food markets/Asian food markets
or your local Chinatown