Confession: I’m obsessed with mangosteens.
Often referred to as the “queen of fruits,” this delectable tangerine-size treat (no relation to a mango) has a thick, fibrous outer shell, a green four-leafed stem and a milky-white segmented center. The center texture is juicy, with a refreshing flavor that tastes sweet and then tart. In Southeast Asia, the harvest season runs from May to October.
Closer to home, summer is the best time to shop for mangosteens imported from Thailand. You can sometimes find them at Asian supermarkets and specialty stores, although availability can be spotty when demand exceeds the supply. A precious commodity, they are usually priced at $8 per pound.
If you do happen upon this treasure, choose fruits that are glossy, with a uniform color. Ripe mangosteens are firm but yield to gentle pressure. The brown “petals” on the bottom of the shell correspond to the number of fruit sections inside. Look for fruits with the most petals, as the corresponding segments will have small or no seeds. To open and serve, pull out the stem and press the outer shell until it pops open.
Premium mangosteens can be found at two shops in the Eden Center in Falls Church: Ben Tre (6795 Wilson Blvd., # 45; 703-532-4204) and Song Que (6769 Wilson Blvd.; 703-536-7900). Note that Song Que deli will be closing in November.