The Mekong Delta is known as “The Rice Bowl of Vietnam”, engaging almost 80% of its residents in rice cultivation.
But that same fertile soil that has helped Vietnam become the #4 top rice producer in the world, also yields some of the sweetest, most delicious tropical fruits anywhere. Take our quiz to see how well you know your Mekong Delta fruits! (Scroll down to the end for the answers.)
1. Let’s start easy. This plant is incredibly useful. The trunk is used for housing. The leaves are woven into roofing material. The young fruit is filled with refreshing liquid and the flesh can be scraped away and eaten.
2. Here’s another easy one. These fruit grow in bunches (only one to a tree), although a different color than the variety normally seen in the West. The bud can also be shredded and made into a salad.
3. This fruit is grown commercially in Central and Southern Vietnam. Its flesh is pale yellow to dark orange with a large inedible seed in the middle. There are hundreds of varieties in Vietnam, and they can be eaten ripe or unripe (usually with a bit of chili salt or pungent shrimp paste!)
4. This plant is technically a vegetable, with almost every part of it being edible. The crunchy stalks can be used raw in a salad with prawns and pork, or stir-fried. The seeds, shown here, are often eaten raw as a snack or cooked in a sweet dessert.
5. This fruit also has many uses. When raw and green, it’s often treated as a vegetable, used in soups or shredded as part of a crunchy salad. When ripe, its flesh turns a deep orange color and tastes like melon.
6. This fruit has a misleading name in English, because it tastes nothing like its name implies. These bell-shaped fruit come in many colors, ranging from white to green to red, and the flesh is crunchy and refreshing, but a bcit on the bland side.
7. This spiky fruit is known as the “King of Fruits” for its intense flavor, which has been described as anything from rotten trash to old gym socks. The Vietnamese, however, love its creamy sweetness. Its distinctive flavor also finds its way into Vietnamese candies and cakes.
8. This fruit is sometimes confused with #7 for its rough skin, but the firm yellow flesh of this member of the fig and mulberry family has a pleasantly sweet taste.
9. The Vietnamese word for this fruit means “messy hair”, but don’t let those soft spiky hairs fool you. The flesh is a translucent white with a sweet, mildly acidic flavor not unlike grapes.
10. Don’t let the exterior fool you. This fruit is actually quite common in the West, often squeezed for its juice. The outside is simply not the same color.
11. This sweet, acidic fruit also finds its way into savory dishes, combined with shrimp and pork for a sweet and savory salad. You’ll often see roadside stands in Vietnam selling a bottle of its juice as a refreshing drink.
12. If you couldn’t answer #4, here’s a hint: This is the gorgeous flower of that plant, a symbol in Buddhism, because it’s something of beauty that grows from the mud, representing the human condition.
13. The fruit of this cactus is named after the mythical animal it resembles. Bright fuchsia pink with green leaves, remove the leathery skin to reveal a white or deep red flesh that’s slightly sweetish / bland and can be eaten, small seeds and all.
1. Coconut (Vietnamese: trái d?a)
2. Banana (Vietnamese: chu?i)
3. Mango (Vietnamese: xoài)
4. Lotus (Vietnamese: sen)
5. Papaya (Vietnamese: ?u ??)
6. Wax Apple, aka Water Apple or Rose Apple (Vietnamese: m?n)
7. Durian (Vietnamese: s?u riêng)
8. Jackfruit (Vietnamese: mít)
9. Rambutan (Vietnamese: chôm chôm)
10. Orange (Vietnamese: cam)
11. Grapefruit (Vietnamese: b??i)
12. Lotus (Vietnamese: sen)
13. Dragon fruit (Vietnamese: thanh long)
So, how did you do on our Mekong Delta fruit quiz? Tell us in the comments and share your favorite Vietnamese fruit!
All the fruit show in this post were found in a single orchard, just outside of Can Tho in the Mekong Delta. Visit it as part of the river tour, organized by Victoria Can Tho Resort.