Traveling throughout Asia means experiencing some of the most incredible fruit dishes. The night markets in each country I traveled provided stall after stall of exotic and familiar fruits to sample and each Hawker attempting to out bid the other for my attention. With a large variety of fresh fruits available year round, every meal provides an opportunity to discover a new fruit based dish. Sometimes though, simplicity is the best method of showcasing flavors.
The restaurant in my hotel would offer a fruit salad every morning at breakfast. On each day, a new combination of fruit was presented but there always seemed to be a consistent underlying flavor. Of course, it only took a few mornings before I was back in the kitchen questioning everyone on how they prepared the fruit salad every day. My questions were generally met with the expression that could only be interpreted as “you’re kidding, right?”. However, I persisted until I found an unmarked jar which held the aroma of the fruit salads. Simple indeed; sugar, almond extract and Chinese 5 Spice powder. Regardless of the fruit combination, the final touch was always a sprinkle of this delightful mixture.
I worked with the combination of fruits and the amount of flavorings until I achieved what I consider the perfect balance. My suggestion is to begin by adding half the amount of seasonings, mixing, tasting and then adding more according to your preference.
View the fruit in this recipe as a suggestion. Any desired complimentary fruit combination would provide a perfect base to the flavors of honey, almond extract and Chinese 5 spice powder. Letting the salad sit in the refrigerator for several hours increases the depth of the flavors, but be sure to mix again before serving to distribute the juices. This may be served alone but pairing with the Lucky Nai Nai’s Lunar Cakes creates a special dessert.
1 medium Mango, peeled and diced
2 kiwi, peeled and diced
1 pint strawberries, cleaned and quartered
1 medium peach, peeled and diced
1 banana, peeled and diced
1 T honey
¼ t almond extract
½ t Chinese 5 spice powder
Place all of the fruit in a large bowl and mix to combine. Add honey, almond extract and the 5 spice powder. Mix well to distribute. Place in the refrigerator for at least an hour to allow flavors to meld.
Divide fruit between 4 dessert plates. Serve with Lucky Nai Nai’s Lunar Cakes if desired.