An uncommon tropical fruit with a bold appearance - green scales on magenta skin. Don't be fooled by its appearance though - its taste is quite peculiar. Unlike other tropical fruits like mangoes and coconuts, dragon fruits don't have much flavor. It's rather hard to describe - perhaps refreshing? Its flavor is faint, and it tastes like subtly-sweet water. It's one of those things that you have to try for yourself; you can't describe how water tastes like to someone who's never had it before.
And no, it does not taste like the Power-C Dragon fruit Vitamin Water. Much more different.
Its texture is similar to a papaya. Firm, but soft enough for your teeth to easily sink into. The fruit's opaque flesh is filled with tiny, edible black seeds, giving it a very slight crunch.
Usually, the flesh is white. But if you're lucky, you might stumble across one with beet-colored flesh. My mom has tried one before, and she says its sweeter. However, I've never had one.
A ripe fruit is slightly soft to the touch. Gently press down on the skin; if it indents slightly, it's ripe. If its still firm, wait a day or two. Store it at room temperature or in the refrigerator - your choice. But whatever you do, don't let the "scales" get brown and brittle. It means that the dragon fruit has been past its prime.
As I live in the Washington D.C. area and not somewhere tropical, these fruits are imported and are only available to me for a short time each year. Usually, I spot them at my local Asian grocer from May to June. Maybe July too, if I'm lucky.
But how do you open it?
Start with a knife, cutting board with a wet dishcloth underneath, and a rinsed dragon fruit.
Chop off the two ends. On the "tail" end (side with lots of long scales hanging off), you may need to chop a large piece off to reach the fruit. If there's a brown stub left in the fruit, chop some more off. You don't want that stub.
Peel off the skin. Use the knife and cut a line on the skin. Then, wedge your fingernail under the skin, push the skin up, and pull it off.
You can either cube the dragon fruit...
or slice it into discs...
or... if you're like me, just bite into the huge fruit and forgo all that chopping/dicing/slicing. I don't recommend it though, it's quite slippery with its somewhat slimy juice. Nothing worse than a dragon fruit that flies right out of your hands and lands on the floor.
If you're feeling fancy, use the peel to make a "boat". Put the pieces of fruit on the inside of the skin and serve. The skin isn't edible though - keep that in mind.
P.S. And about the food of the month series - I'm going to stop that for now. I never finished the tofu series, but it was a lot more harder than I anticipated.