The other night I was at one of my evening freelance jobs, and when dinner was served, my coworkers united to stare at the black and white speckled fruit on the catering tray. "What is that?" one person said. Followed by a smattering of, "That looks interesting." "Is anyone going to try it?" "It's kind of pretty."
Intrigued, I took a piece of it back to my desk, where a coworker explained that it is called "dragon fruit," which my later research showed me comes in a variety of colors: They can be red or pink on the outside, with white, red, or yellow on the inside, all dotted with the little black edible seeds.
The ornamental fruit comes from the genus Hylocereus or sweet pitayas division of the cactus family, and is common in Thailand, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam, as well as Central and South America. It dates back to the Central America Aztecs of the 13th century, and is reported to have been brought back to Vietnam by the French. Legend has it that fire-breathing dragons used to spew out the fruit just before dying in battle, and it was then gathered by soldiers who would give it to the emperor as a gift and then eat the dragon's flesh.
Dragon fruit helps lower blood glucose levels. It also helps regulate digestion with its high fiber content, and it's also a great source of B1, B2, B3, and Vitamin C.
Here is a recipe for a Dragon Fruit Shake, courtesy of AllRecipes.com:
Dragon Fruit Shake (yields 2)
Prep time: 10 minutes Ready in: 10 minutes
- 1 dragon fruit (pitaya)
- 2 tangerines, peeled and segmented
- 1 lime, juiced
- 4 leaves fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 cup sparkling mineral water, chilled
- 1 cup crushed ice
Cut two 1/4 inch thick slices from the peeled dragon fruit to use as a garnish; set aside. Place the remaining dragon fruit into a blender along with the tangerine segments, lime juice, basil, brown sugar, and sparkling water. Puree until smooth. Stir in the crushed ice, and pour into glasses. Garnish with the reserved dragon fruit slices to serve.