Dragon fruit growing in Hawaii


My nephew Steven gave me some dragon fruit, or pitaya, his friend raised in Hilo. We had eaten them in Thailand and the school we taught English at grew dragon fruit hanging from concrete posts. In Thailand, their cut-up fruit is served after a meal, usually with white guava and watermelon when in season.

There are three types of dragon fruit: red, white , pink, and yellow flesh, all with black seeds. The yellow-skinned fruit have white flesh inside, but the pink-colored ones could be either pink or white-fleshed, so ask your grocer or grower. It is said that the red flesh is the best tasting.

Serve cold and just remove the thick skin. The inside flesh is soft and juicy.

The fruit is picked matured. Choose fruit that is firm and allow it to sit on your kitchen counter for a day or two until there is a little give. It is then ready to eat, and keeps in the refrigerator for about three days. Do not allow the dragon fruit to get too soft to touch.

Dragon fruit has many health benefits, including removing toxic substances like heavy metals from your body. It contains antioxidants, has niacin, riboflavin, vitamin C and B-3, iron, phosphorous, calcium, and carotene. Other benefits include fighting coughs and asthma, boosts immune system, gives energy, could lower LDL cholesterol, moisturizes skin, improves eyesight, prevents hypertension, reduced blood sugar levels, and overall balances our body.

Because dragon fruit is very mild in flavor, with a hint of vanilla, choose other ingredients that will not overpower its delicate flavors. Chef Alan Wong classifies foods as either “bullies” or “princesses” and dragon fruit is definitely a “princess!”

With a couple of dragon fruits, you can make a refreshing sorbet, with the fruit able to stand out without any competition of other flavors.

It would make a great dessert to end a Thai or Vietnamese dinner, and could be made a day ahead, freeing your time to prepare dinner the day of your dinner.

Dragon Fruit Sorbet

Makes 2 cups

Cut in half, scoop out all flesh with a spoon of:

2 dragon fruits

Reserve the half skins to serve the sorbet in. Place in freezer, wrapped in plastic wrap.

Place pulp of dragon fruit in food processor with:

3/4 cup cold water

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons sugar

Pulse until smooth. Pour into ice cream maker and churn until frozen. Spoon sorbet into the frozen halves of the dragon fruit, or freeze the sorbet until ready to serve.

SMALL BITES

Dragon fruit is a member of the cactus family, genus Pitaya Hylocereus, or sweet pitaya. It would grow nicely in Hilo but I am not sure if I could grow it in Volcano.

FOODIE BITES

Thank you, Sande Stanley, for your email on the Palmer House Brownie recipe I published in May.

Sande sent the recipe to her friend in Chicago and there was a terrible, yet funny, experience in the kitchen!

The 9-by-13 pan did not fit all the batter and after 15 minutes of cooking, the brownies were a gooey chocolate mess that spilled out into her clean oven. She pressed the self-cleaning mode and then the smoke alarm went off. She did not check her blood pressure, but was sure it went up!

I need to relook at that recipe. Obviously the pan needs to be larger and the time in the oven needs also be readjusted. I think Sande’s suggestion about creaming the butter and sugar together works, but not essential, because brownies don’t need to light like a cake, but should be dense and that 1 pound of butter and 1 pound of sugar in a 9-by-13 pan is not going to work. Sorry about that. I will be working on this recipe and instructions.

Opening at the Waikola Highlands Shopping Center is Pueo’s Osteria. Chef James Babian, formerly of the Four Season Hualalai, and Hospice of Hilo’s guest chef for its 2012 Holiday Dinner, is the owner/chef.

Open for dinner and late night, Pueo’s Osteria will feature antipasti or appetizers, zuppa and insalada or soup or salad, 12-inch pizzas, pastas, entrees, and contorini or side dishes.

Chef James has always advocated using local products and his menu reflects that. NELHA black mussels and clams are featured in the appetizers, Hamakua mushrooms, WOW heirloom tomatoes, and Kekela Farms baby greens in the salads, Big Island wild boar with pappardelle, Big Island meats with their rigatoni Bolognese, or fresh linguine ai frutti di mare which has shrimp, clams, calamari, mussels and fresh catch as entrées. My favorite, eggplant parmesan is on the menu so will be a must-go for me!

Mark your calendar for the 1st annual Lilikoi Festival from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Nov. 2 in Hawaiian Paradise Park.

Please feel free to e-mail me at wilson.audrey@hawaiiantel.net if you have a question. Bon appetit until next week.

 

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