IS THIS THE NEXT BIG THING? THE GAC FRUIT
So what is this bizarre looking fruit? Momordica cochinchinensis is a Southeast Asian fruit found in a wide stretch of Asia from Southern China into northern Australia. The Gac fruit is a spiny gourd that is intensely red in colour with an orange interior. It is easy to grow in tropical zones but with a short harvest season of 2-3 months this luxury fruit is reserved for ceremonial or festive occasions in Vietnam like new year and weddings.
In recent years the fruit has been marketed outside of Asia in health food shops as dietary supplements. Traditionally the Gac fruit has been used as both food and medicine like a multitude of other ingredients in Asia.
THE FLAVOUR PROFILE
Dubbed the Fruit from Heaven, it has an average flavour profile but visually it really stands apart. Its orange pulp symbolises life, vitality and longevity. It is said to taste like cantaloupe and carrot mixed together. To some though the flavour can be quite bland and benefits from being combined with other stronger fruit flavours.
SCIENCE OF THE GAC FRUIT
It has a strong connection to the health of your eyes as it is said to improve your vision as well a high phytonutrient content. Probably even more important is the extremely high beta-carotene and lycopene found in the fruit (76 times more lycopene than commercial tomatoes). These important nutrients are antioxidants capable of capturing free radicals and thus protecting the body more. In addition the seeds contain high levels of Vitamin E.
GETTING IT READY TO EAT
When buying Gac in Asian markets look out for fruits that have a strong orange to red colour as this is a good indicator of ripeness.
HOW TO USE IT?
Basically there are seemingly two ways to use a Gac Fruit. One is as a juice and the other is to add it to rice. This second option is very traditional in Vietnam. In a dish called xôi gấc, the aril and seeds of the fruit are cooked in glutinous rice which gives the rich an attractive colour and distinctive taste.
FLAVOUR COMBINATION SUGGESTIONS
In Asia it is seemingly combined with either other fruits or rice. It goes very well with passionfruit and orange as well as other sweet fruit juices.
- To get to try it fresh you have to look in South East Asian markets
- Make sure you try it with rice when visiting Vietnam