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It’s difficult to describe the rambutan…It helps to be familiar with the texture and flavor of Lychee fruit, and the strange, otherworldliness of sea urchins.

According to Wikipedia, the rambutan (a name which refers to the tree and the fruit) is native to tropical regions of Southeast Asia and is related to the lychee, longan, and mamoncillo. The fruit is a round, ovular, single-seeded berry. Its skin (which is totally inedible) is red or red-orange and covered with fleshy pliable spines. The fruit (or edible flesh) is translucent, whitish or very pale pink, and has a sweet, mildly acidic flavor slightly reminiscent of grapes.

But you really have to try them in order to understand. First you have to get over appearances. These “fleshy, pliable spines” are something to behold. The skin is very uninviting, and reminds me vaguely of sea urchins. It takes a bit of bravery to peel them, but it’s well worth it. It’s a relatively simple task not unlike peeling an orange. Once inside, the fruit is completely different. It has a delicious aroma, milky white color, and the texture of a skinned grape.

The trouble with rambutan is the vexing question of what, exactly, to do with them. What do you do with them? Well, like so many other exotic fruits, the best thing to do, once they’re ripe, is eat them completely raw. I’ve seen someone consume half a dozen of them in a row. I myself prefer to eat only one at a time, and eat it very slowly. It is a fruit worth savoring. Not gorging upon. That said, I feel there are other, unexplored applications for them. Using them in a cocktail seemed the obvious course of action. The icy temperature of a martini does something to accentuate the floral notes in their flavor profile. Plus, the odd appearance of the fruit is disguised by the welcoming sight of a delightfully frosted cocktail glass.


Rambutan Martini (Rambutini)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup Sugar
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1/4 cup Water
8 fresh Rambutans
4 ounces Vodka
2 teaspoons lime juice
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1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup Ice

Method:

1. Make the simple syrup. Add the sugar and water to a small sauce pan and place it over medium-high heat.
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Heat just until the sugar has dissolved,
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then pour this into a small bowl to cool.
2. Peel and pit the rambutans.
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Make a small incision at the top to get started.
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Carefully remove the thin skin from the fruit.
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3. Using your fingers, dig into the fruit and remove the pit.
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4. Place the rambutan in a cocktail shaker and muddle only until they are broken enough to release their juices.
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5. Add the vodka, lime juice, vanilla, ice, and cooled simple syrup. Cover and shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
6. Strain into two martini glasses,
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adding a few pieces of broken rambutan flesh. Enjoy!
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Rambutan Martini
Recipe type: cocktail
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup Sugar
  • ¼ cup Water
  • 8 fresh Rambutans
  • 4 ounces Vodka
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup Ice
Instructions
  1. Make the simple syrup. Add the sugar and water to a small sauce pan and place it over medium-high heat. Heat just until the sugar has dissolved, then pour this into a small bowl to cool.
  2. Peel and pit the rambutans. Make a small incision at the top to get started. Carefully remove the thin skin from the fruit.
  3. Using you fingers, dig into the fruit and remove the pit.
  4. Place the rambutan in a cocktail shaker and muddle only until they are broken enough to release their juices.
  5. Add the vodka, lime juice, vanilla, ice, and cooled simple syrup. Cover and shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
  6. Strain into two martini glasses, adding a few pieces of broken rambutan flesh. Enjoy!