Elephant apple is an evergreen large-sized shrub that belongs to the Dilleniaceae family. The tree grows 15 meters tall. The most important part of the tree is the fruit, elephant apple appears to be a large round fruit that’s greenish yellow in color. Growing to a size of 5-12 cm diameter which is actually an aggregate of carpels. These carpels contain five seeds each embedded in the fleshy, gelatinous, mildly sweet, but acidic and a little tart pulp. In Tra Vinh province in Mekong Delta region of Vietnam, local people usually grow this tree for shade and fruits. The fruit is seldom consumed raw, they have created many great elephant apple recipes. Elephant apple and dishes from this fruit have become the pride of Tra Vinh people.
The simplest way to eat elephant apple is getting its flesh of the young fruit and dip in chili salt or a sauce made from fish sauce and sugar. Tra Vinh people don’t plug the fruit but let it fall itself. They do not eat right after the fruit falls but wait for a few days. The more ripen the elephant apple is, the darker its flesh is, the more smelling it is. When elephant apple ripens, they break it in half, use a spoon to get the carpels out, put the carpels into a glass, add some sugar and ice. Now they have a refreshing dish to beat the heat and provide lots of vitamins on summer days. The sweet, sour, greasy flesh and crunchy seeds can make you eat more and more. They also ground elephant apple with sugar, milk and crushed ice to make an outstanding smoothie (Sinh to).
They can use elephant apple to make cakes or make dipping tamarind fish sauce. A strange recipe from elephant apple is Quach cham mam: elephant apple and other vegetables (star-fruit, green banana, salad, water lily stem) are wrapped in rice paper and dipped in Fermented fish. Elephant apple wine is a specialty of Tra Vinh because it is very healthy and tasty. To make this wine, they soak elephant apple flesh and a few pieces of elephant apple skin in sticky rice wine or rice wine.
If you have a chance to come to Tra Vinh, do not miss trying delicious foods and drinks from elephant apple – one of the specialty foods of Tra Vinh. The indigenous people and the taste of elephant apple will leave a beautiful memory on your trip.