Starfruits are more readily available now at Asian supermarkets, here's how to use them
by LeAnn Nguyen
June 13, 2018
Even if you’ve never seen one before, there’s no doubt you’d recognize a starfruit. True to its name, this yellow-green fruit, also known as a carambola, has distinctive ridges that make its cross-section look just like a star. Traditionally cultivated in the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia, today you can find them grown in many places with tropical climates – there are domestic growers in Florida and Hawaii! In Seattle, you can find starfruit at many Asian grocery stores.
The entire fruit is edible, including the skin. The flesh is slightly crunchy, juicy, translucent and has a texture similar to grapes. They are best consumed shortly after they ripen, when they are yellow with a light shade of green. Sweet without being overwhelming, they have a tart undertone and have been compared to a mix of apple, pear, grape, and citrus family fruits. Unripe starfruits are firmer and sour, and taste like green apples.
Here are five ways to incorporate starfruit into your cooking this summer. They are an easy addition that will surely impress your guests. Click on dish names for recipes!
The sweet, tart flavor of starfruit naturally make them great in salads. This recipe takes advantage of that flavor, and also incorporates the sweet flavors of other tropical fruits like pineapple and papaya. Mint sprigs and fresh lime juice add in a refreshing brightness and chopped macadamia nuts give the salad a bit of crunch. It’s a perfect light appetizer or dessert for breezy spring days.
Upside-down fruit cakes are a crowd-pleaser not only for being tasty but also for their visual appeal. You can take the beauty of the upside-down cake to the next level by using starfruit, which arguably has the prettiest slices — they are shaped like stars, after all. The starfruit’s flavor also takes center stage in this recipe, with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice added as complements. You’ll certainly get many oohs and ahhs at your next party by making this dessert.
Seattle takes its teriyaki chicken seriously. One thing you’re unlikely to find in these restaurants, however, is teriyaki chicken with starfruit. While it may seem like an unusual combination at first, starfruit actually makes a great addition to this classic dish, with its tartness contrasting nicely with the sweet soy flavor of teriyaki sauce. This recipe calls for starfruit slices to be seared to give them an appealing crispness. It’s not your typical teriyaki, but it might be nice to try something new next time you crave it.
Sure, you can try to get your kids to eat healthier by giving them apple chips to snack on, but they might be more inclined to eat these fun-shaped starfruit chips. Even better, you can easily make them at home, with the only ingredients you need being starfruit and sugar. All you need to do is slice the fruit, boil it in water and sugar (which also gives you a tasty starfruit syrup you can use in other recipes), and bake the chips.
Another easy recipe that you can make for breakfast or dessert is this starfruit smoothie. The sweet and sour flavor of starfruit is paired with the crispness of pineapple and cucumber, brought together by refreshing coconut water. You can pile on additional nutrition by adding in kale, spinach, beets, flax seeds, and hemp seeds. It sounds like quite the handful of ingredients, but combining them in a blender transforms them into one smooth, creamy super drink. Save a slice of starfruit to garnish it and add a bit of tropical brightness to your day.