Thursday, August 25, 2005

Hawaiian Fruit Part I: Lilikoi

One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to check out grocery stores. Grocery stores are full of exciting tidbits and products, as well as local specialties and flavors. Along with Farmer's Markets, grocery stores gives travelers a peak into the kitchens in the neighborhood.

I was very lucky to find Kokua Market, a small grocery store with local and/or organic foods. Since we had a kitchenette, we picked up various breakfast offerings and several interesting fruits that caught our eye(s). Crammed in a small produce corner were vibrantly colored exotic fruits alongside familiar offerings like pineapples and bananas.

I picked out the Lilikoi, because it had such a pretty name. Lilikoi. Doesn't it sound like a Hawaiian princess' name? I had no idea what to expect, really. I didn't even know how we were supposed to eat it! A nice gentleman was passing by as I was commenting on how I had no clue what to do with it, and he offered some of his Lilikoi knowledge to us. He told us that they were sour and best served squeezed on top of fried bananas and such. So, I was actually expecting the Lilikoi to be more like a citrus than anything.

Imagine my surprise when we got home and I saw this:

I knew this was no ordinary citrus when I tried to cut it open with our insanely dull kitchenette knife that didn't even make a small puncture on the skin. The skin was tougher than any citrus I've ever encountered!

Surely, this was no citrus. It tasted more like a lemon-soaked tart mango with a strong tropical fruit smell. This 'tropical fruit smell' is not something I've quite learned to appreciate yet - that smell that is consistent between mangos, papayas, and that dreaded 'King of Fruits' Durian. It sort of smells like decomposing fruit to me, which is really not a very nice thing to say... And this Lilikoi was even more potent because the seeds were TAAAAAART. I sense saliva collecting on my tongue as I recall the flavors. The seeds crunched easily and the combination of the silky pulp and the crunchy seeds had a nice texture, but boy, the flavors were all too much for me.

Despite its very cute name, the Lilikoi was too advanced for me to really enjoy. Between that pungent tropical fruit smell and the extreme tartness that exploded when I bit into the seeds, I declared myself defeated. Alice vs the Lilikoi - winner: Lilikoi.


PS: I just found out that the Lilikoi is also known as a yellow passion fruit. And then, it occurred to me - besides passion fruit-flavored smoothies, I've never had passion fruits before! I suppose I now know that I will likely not enjoy the fruit itself just yet, which is funny because I really like passion fruit smoothies!


The Papa Bear said...

Upon opening the fruit, lilikoi has the same identical fragrance to that of guava. I was quite intrigued. But it doesn't taste even remotely like guava. Its tartness was tempered by an underlying sweetness that makes it a very tasty summer fruit. I like it!!!

Joy said...

This is my FAVORITE! I can never find fresh ones outside Hawaii. Fortunately for me, my friend lives on Kauai and we're going to her wedding there next month. Guess what kind of wedding cake she's having? LILIKOI!:)

Alice said...


I guess I'm just not a tropical girl... I just look like one with my ultra-tan!


Wooooow, you are ADVANCED!

A lilikoi flavored wedding cake sounds like the perfect Hawaiian treat! I wonder if I would like lilikoi-flavor more than the fruit itself, since I am quite fond of passion fruit-flavored smoothies and such...

I hope you'll blog about your Kauai trip and share what the Lilikoi wedding cake tasted like!

Anonymous said...

Lilikoi is my absolute favorite! I've been on Oahu for about a year now, and I try anything and everything I come into contact with. I've had lilikoi like the one written about. . . but just yesterday I was hiking around Laie and came upon a vine. It was the sweetest, most delicious thing I'd EVER tasted. I think it just depends on the vine. . . so go ahead and give it another try sometime!!

Eric said...

I was just in Hawaii and absolutely loved the one lilikoi I came across. I was sweet and juicy and not very tart at all. The one I had looked just like the one you had except that the juice and flesh around the seeds was more of a pink color, similar to the color of watermelon juice and the outside was a little more orangish. I wonder if maybe the fruit you tried wasn't ripe enough?