In my first post about Vietnam, I shared 13 of my favorite specialty dishes of Hoi An and talked about how wonderful it was that the ingredients they use are fresh and sourced locally. In this post, we take a step back to visit the lively street market of Hoi An, where the locals and eateries shop for fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood.
It was fun to look back at these photos and reflect on the things we tried. We didn't eat nearly enough fruit on this trip and that was probably one of our biggest regrets. Here's a look at the different varieties of fruits we came across and how they taste, plus my favorite snapshots of the market.
the Fruits of hoi an
Due to its location in the tropic zone, Vietnam is considered to be fruit heaven. When exploring the beautiful ancient city of Hoi An, you will find heaps of colorful tropical fruit at the street market that will captivate you.
One of the many things we learned was the fruits offered in Vietnam vary by location. For instance, when we went to visit Hanoi, the fruits sold were not nearly as good as the fruits in Hoi An due to the north side's colder climate. In fact, because Hanoi doesn't grow many fruits, a lot of it is also imported from China. I am thankful that we decided to visit Hoi An because having the opportunity to try out these specialty fruits was a pretty awesome experience.
Mangosteens (Măng cụt)
Mangosteens are considered to be an extremely rare fruit due to the level of difficulty it takes to grow in non-tropical climates. The mangosteen has gorgeous dark purple skin that tastes bitter if mistakenly eaten. Inside are nicely arranged segments of white flesh called endocarp that has a mild sweet and acidic flavor with a strawberry-like after taste.
Langsat (bòn bon)
We both thought this was some version of a longan, but was surprised to find out that it was a completely different fruit that we've never heard of before called bòn bon. It grows in clusters, similar to grapes, on a tree from the mahogany family. The fruit contains 1 to 3 flat bitter tasting seeds that are covered with a thick, clear-white aril that tastes sweet and sour. It tastes like a combination of grape and grapefruit.
Star Apple (vú sữa)
The translation of vú sữa literally means “milk from the breast” in Vietnamese. This fruit is grown on orchards located in central and southern parts of Vietnam. Locals use a spoon to scoop and eat it. The star apple tastes sweet and milky, very delicious. Supposedly, it tastes like breast milk, which I cannot confirm. Overall, it was very messy to eat and the juices made my fingers really sticky.
Custard Apple (mãng cầu ta)
The fruit that is appropriately named so due to its custard-like texture. This is one of our favorite fruits because it's fragrant and sweet. The skin sort of looks like a shriveled up turtle shell and tastes like a subtle soft apple. When it's ripe, you can pull it apart to open and eat the meat inside, spitting or removing the seeds as you go.
Water Apple (mận)
This fruit brought back memories from my first trip to Vietnam with my mom and sister. When I was introduced to the water apple as a kid, I fell in love with its super crisp and watery texture. It's like a really juicy subtle apple. The kind of juicy that will drip down your chin.
Star Fruit (Khế)
There are tons of star fruit trees in Cam Nam Village that's lined up along the river and we picked this unripe fruit off the tree. It's called a star fruit because when you cut it sideways, it makes a star pattern. The skin is waxy and the entire fruit is edible, juicy and tastes sweet and sour. It starts off green when young, but turns yellow when ripe and ready to eat.
the Vegetables of Hoi An
Many of the herbs and vegetables that you see here are from Tra Que, a village in Hoi An. According to Good Morning Hoi An: "150 owners and 400 farmers live here and cultivate around 20 types of vegetables and herbs such as mint leaves, lettuce, basil, coriander and broccoli. Laid on more than 40 hectares of land, the farmers do not use any pesticides nor OGM’s but only natural fertilizers and in particular some sort of alga which is located in the lagoon of Tra Que, collected by the farmers themselves by boat in the morning. 8 tons of vegetables are sold every year from Tra Que village, mostly to restaurants in Hoi An."
the seafood of hoi an
I wish we had a place with a kitchen so we could cook with the fresh seafood we found at the fish market. The diversity of the fishes offered looked beautiful. These fish were all caught locally by fisherman late at night.
A lady helps out a customer while she uses a pair of scissors to cut off fish heads.
Fresh live crabs are for sale and tied with banana leaves to prevent them from pinching.
VIETNAM TRIP 2014 RECAP: UP NEXT
In the next post about Vietnam, I'm sharing my favorite moments of Hoi An that are unrelated to food.
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