Fruit Stand: Red Dragonfruit

Red dragonfruit has got to be one of the best parts of living in Penang.  In South America, dragonfruit is known as pitaya, but here we call it buah naga, which means dragon fruit.  I get mine at the wet market but I’ve seen them at Tesco and at Cold Storage.

When we lived in Indonesia, we could only find the white variety.  The red one was a treat that we discovered on our first trip to Kuala Lumpur.

Nutritionally dragonfruit is considered a superfood.  It is high in vitamin C.  It is rich in calcium and phosphorus.

The color of red dragonfruit is very bright and attractive.  It also can stain.  We usually have to be very careful with the children when they eat it.  Smoothies and blended fruit drinks are a better way to go, to keep the color off clothing.

How to eat

The skin comes off the fruit pretty easily.  However, be careful, because you want to minimize how much you touch the inside.  I’ve stained my fingers so that the color doesn’t wash off for a whole day.

There are little black seeds in it, similar to the seeds in kiwifruit.  These are edible and don’t cause problems in smoothies.

Below is an illustrated step-by-step procedure for preparing a dragonfruit.

Slice the dragonfruit twice down the middle

Slice the red dragonfruit twice down the middle

I start on a cutting board which is placed on a dish towel to catch juices.  There are two ends of the fruit, one has a hard indented crater, the other looks like it was where the flower used to be.  I put the hard crater down on the board and cut down.  Slice down the middle but not all the way through.  Cut again 90 degrees from your first cut, so that it makes an ‘X” on the top.

Blossom the fruit, but keep it together

Blossom the fruit, but keep it together

Open the fruit down the middle, keeping it together.  Try to make sure that you only touch the skin.  The flesh of the red dragonfruit will stain your fingers and anything else it touches.

I’m missing a picture here.  I hold the fruit in my left hand and slice through the quarters, down to the skin, but not through the skin.

Slice the prepared slices off the skin into your container

Slice the prepared slices off the skin into your container

Then I slice the fruit off the skin into my container.  The skin comes off easily.  This can be done with the flat edge of the knife instead of the sharp edge, if you want.  In the illustration you can see that the pieces fall off in neat little quarter circles.  These are often larger than bite size.  If preparing red dragonfruit for messy eaters (like my two-year-old) I slice the quarters down the middle into eighths and then slice across into pieces.

Even being careful, I got pink juice on my hand

Even being careful, I got pink juice on my hand

As you can see, I was not able to keep my hand completely clean.  This is a lot better than my first attempt.  I hand a bright pink stain on both hands up to my wrists that time!  And it lasted for a day.

Someday in the future, I’ll share a smoothie recipe that we use with red dragonfruit