Milk fruit is known to be a popular tropical fruit indigenous to Cambodia (phlai teuk-doh koh) and Vietnam (vú sữa). The underbelly of the leaf is a greenish purple hue, while the top is a deep green. The smooth, round plant contains sticky white latex and can grow to about 200 grams in weight.
There are two types of milk fruit: purple and white. The exterior of the compound fruit is either white or deep purple when ripe and light green when unripe. A creamy white flesh lies beneath the skin and tastes juicy and sweet.
Their fragrantly sweet white flesh to taste and milky white juice (a little like congealed milk) are probably what gives them their name, although the skins of the young fruit oozes a milky sap when cut.
The most popular way to enjoy the fruit is to squeeze the tough fruit until it becomes tender, so that the juice mixes with the meat of the fruit. A small hole is then cut at the top so the juice can be sucked out. While enjoying the fresh food, be careful not to eat the few seeds embedded in its flesh.
On our taxi ride back to District 4 from the airport, I asked The Astronomer if there were any fruits at the apartment. He replied no. So, instead being dropped off at our apartment, I asked the cabbie to stop at the fruit stand where I procured a papaya and The Astronomer picked up tangerines and a pomelo. I always aim for five-a-day.
As the fruit lady packed up our selections, I asked her what the greenish/pinkish orbs were. She replied vú sữa, which translates kinkily to milky boob. Hubba hubba. Before we could object, she sliced one in half and handed The Astronomer and I each a spoon so we could dig in. The customer service in this country is unbeatable.
It was juicy, but tasted pretty plain and not particularly sweet or tart. Since it was my first taste of vú sữa, I wasn’t sure if I had a great one or an average one. I’ll have to try another while they’re still in season.