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Dominican Passion Fruit: Hola, Chinola

photo-65I’ve just returned from a family vacation in the Dominican Republic, and I have only one word of advice. If you return to Hartsfield-Jackson happy and sunburned and wearing light beach clothes in winter, there is a small chance it will be 22 degrees outside, and your car parked in the far reaches of the economy lot will have a dead battery, and your wife will suspect you left the lights on, and you will have to call for a jump, and you will see the truck circling halfway across the parking lot (because the driver was given the wrong coordinates), and you will have to run like a maniac waving your arms and looking like Zach Galifianakis screaming, “Over here!”

Just saying…

Anyhow, if this happens to you, do what I did and think back to all the amazing passion fruit you ate over your vacation.

We got our first taste of passion fruit at the resort where we were staying in the form of  juice served with breakfast. They prepared it by blending the orange pulp, passing it through a sieve to remove the many black seeds inside and then mixing it with water and sugar in a pitcher until the sugar dissolved.

A couple of days later I was exploring a vegetable market in the small seaside town of Cabrera near our place and came across a huge bin of the fresh fruit, called chinola locally. There farmers grow the golden variety, which are variable in size but can grow much larger than the purple ones you sometimes find in the markets here for a hefty price.

Some were smooth and still green skinned, others were yellow and had begun to wrinkle like a geriatric shar pei. I knew the wrinkly ones would be sweeter and so I selected those.

When we got back we cut them in half and found the insides packed with pulp — unlike the sometimes anemic, empty fruit sold in the stores here. What a great, unforgettable sensation to poke your tongue into ripe passion fruit pulp. Each little juice sac adheres lightly to the neighboring ones and the walls of the shell. It feels soft and silken on the tongue as you work it free — an unexpected contrast to the that brassy, sunshine-y, Hawaiian Punch flavor. I also thought the unstrained seeds — brittle and crunchy — added to the pleasure.

Yellow passion fruit, even at their most ripe, are more sour than sweet. Not that we were complaining: my family and I are all nuts for sour flavors and fruit of any kind. After seeing us reveling in the fresh passion fruit, the kitchen staff at the place we were staying started putting it out on the breakfast table.

And in the bar. Someone in our party got the bright idea to mix passion fruit pulp, dark rum and club soda.

I sure wouldn’t mind one of those right about now.

4 comments Add your comment

oh baby

December 29th, 2010
8:32 pm

maracuja!!!! forget the club soda – make a real caipirinha with some fresh passion fruit – absolutely the best cocktail you’ll ever drink! get some Leblon, muddle some sugar and passion fruit just add ice. soo yummy. i had them in rio last year – best thing i’ve ever had

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tim hall

December 30th, 2010
2:12 pm

Blend passion fruit pulp with your electric wand and pour it over a salad seeds-in, instead of vinegar…. make a chutney by mixing pulp seeds-in with minced onion, honey, sugar and red wine and cook a bit…. out of this world! Coming to Puerto Plata? Pay us a visit for more passion fruit cooking:


January 2nd, 2011
11:47 am

Had amazing passion fruit curd as part of dessert at Bar Boulud. Perfect.