Ambarella also called Trái Cóc in Vietnamese is a lesser-known fruit here in the United States. My friendly Vietnamese neighbor just picked these this morning from his Ambarella tree and is generously sharing them with me.
To eat, peel the skin off and remove the core. It is crunchy and sour and slightly sweet in the center. In Vietnam, we like to dip them in a mixture of spicy chili peppers, salt, and pepper. If you don’t like it sour, let them ripe. Their skin will turn from bright green to yellow when they are ripe. It will be more tender and sweeter. But do not expect them ever to be as sweet as a ripe Mango or Jackfruit.
In Vietnam, Ambarelle / Trái Cóc is often used as a cooking ingredient with many types of meats, primarily pork. In many Caribbean islands including Tobago and Trinidad, Ambarella is eaten pickled and they lovingly call it “Chow”.
In this little video, besides the Ambarella fruit you see other Vietnamese herbs that are all homegrown in my little garden:
Pandan Leaves – this grass-like herb has this amazing fragrant aroma and it is therefore very often used for dessert dishes in Southeast Asian dishes.
Perilla leaves which is called Tiá Tô in Vietnamese and often known as Shiso. It is easy to recognize this herb with its green and purple leaves. We heavily eat this beautiful herb with Vietnamese dishes such as Vietnamese crepes called Bánh Xèo, Spring Rolls Gỏi Cuốn and many noodle soup dishes including Bún Chả.
Piper Lolot has a mild and slightly peppery taste and the leaves are just gorgeous. It is called Lá lốt in Vietnamese and it is the star ingredient in a very well-known dish called Bò Lá Lốt. In this dish, seasoned ground beef is wrapped with these Piper Lolot leaves and authentically grilled over charcoal. This cooking technique releases all of the wonderful herbal flavors and aromas that this herb possesses. But fried or put in a small toaster oven, Bò Lá Lốt taste almost as wonderful.