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    Mystery Fruit – The Akebi Part 2

    By thomas | October 17, 2007

    A package containing two akebiA couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the akebi fruit. The akebi is an oval-shaped, purple fruit that grows on a wild vine here in Japan. I had never seen or eaten one before, so I was excited to try it. After patiently waiting for my akebis to ripen, I finally had the opportunity to try it earlier this month. It was quite an interesting experience! (As a side note, about half of the search engine traffic this site receives is from google searches for “akebi fruit”. Who would’ve thought?)

    The Akebi

    The akebi fruit has a visible seam running from top to bottom on the skin. I read on the internet that the akebi is supposed to pop open at the seam when it is ready to eat. My akebis didn’t pop open. I’m not exactly sure why they didn’t pop, but it’s possible that leaving them in the plastic package had something to do with it. Anyway, after some days I picked the fruit up and they felt soft and mushy to the touch, so I ventured to cut them open myself.

    Akebi FruitThe inside of the akebi is a translucent white sac. The texture reminded me a bit of jello or konnyaku. Inside the white part are dozens of black seeds, similar to watermelon seeds but slightly smaller and softer. You can eat the seeds. The white part is sweet, but not especially fruity.

    It wasn’t obvious how to eat the akebi at first. My wife tried to avoid eating the seeds by separating them from the flesh, but had a bit of trouble with it. There were just too many seeds buried in the sticky flesh. I just slurped the seeds down with the fruit and had an easier time with it.  Don’t worry about chewing on the seeds.   They are small enough to just swallow.

    The skin is much too bitter to eat raw, but you can use them in recipes. One way to use the skin is to cut it into bite-sized pieces and fry them in oil for akebi tempura. Here’s another recipe to try. I found it here:

    1. Wash akebi skin well. Scoop out the insides if there are any left.
    2. Make a mixture of 1 teaspoon (小さじ [こさじ]) oil, 1 tablespoon (大さじ [おおさじ]) miso and a little sugar. Pour the mixture into the bowl-shaped akebi skins.
    3. Heat 5 tablespoons (大さじ [おおさじ]) cooking oil in a frying pan. Add akebi skins, cover and cook over low heat until the skins become soft.
    4. Eat!
    5. Optionally, for a heartier meal, before cooking you can stuff the skins with a finely chopped mixture of kinoko mushrooms, shiso leaves, fried tofu and ground/minced meat. Go easy on the shiso leaves though, as they have a very strong flavor.

    Stuffed Akebi

    Enjoy! Have you ever eaten akebi? I’d like to hear about your impressions. Leave me a comment!

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    Topics: Fall | 19 Comments »Trackback

    19 Responses to “Mystery Fruit – The Akebi Part 2”

    1. Jonneh Says:
      October 17th, 2007 at 7:06 pm

      Nope, never eaten one before. It looks so strange though. That translucent white sac reminds me of a slug haha.

    2. Rick Says:
      October 17th, 2007 at 10:45 pm

      Your blog is interesting! I just came across the link from your mixi post. I’ll be reading it. (if this posts twice, sorry, the first one seemed to error)

    3. Tori Says:
      October 18th, 2007 at 6:25 pm

      I have to agree with Jonneh on this one. That definitely looks like a slug in that picture. But I’ve had stranger meals in Japan so if I get the chance I’ll try it.

    4. Deas (RockingInHakata.com) Says:
      October 23rd, 2007 at 4:43 am

      Thanks for the comment on my blog. Good to know that there are doctor’s offices in Japan to be found if you know where to look. Still – I prefer not getting sick at all to finding one.

    5. thomas Says:
      October 28th, 2007 at 9:34 am

      Jonneh: I can see how it might look slug-ish. It would be a very big slug though!

      Rick: Thanks for the support! Spread the word!

      Tori: I wasn’t blown away by the taste of the akebi. It was sweet and pleasant, but not particularly remarkable. It’s still worth a shot eating, just for the experience.

      Deas: Thanks for the return comment. I also prefer not getting sick, but sometimes it’s out of our control :). The medicine the doctor gave me did the trick though. My fever broke after only one day.

    6. Mystery Fruit - The Akebi Part 1 | nihonhacks.com Says:
      October 28th, 2007 at 1:35 pm

      […] Mystery Fruit – The Akebi Part 2 […]

    7. Fruitarian Says:
      September 10th, 2008 at 2:07 am

      Cool recipes, thank you! Next time I wont’ be throwing away the peel :o)

    8. praguepenguin Says:
      October 8th, 2008 at 9:00 am

      I was given some akabi by a neighbor, and had no idea what to do with it. I opened it and felt like I should grab a hammer in case there was any sudden movement from the alien liveform that had invaded my mystery fruit. Upon reading this page I gave it a shot, and am not really a fan. Especially don’t try to chew the seeds, as they are just bitter enough to ruin whatever enjoyment you get out of the pulp. Interesting fruit, but I can’t imagine growing it for buying it for the little it offers! Buy it for your guests and pretend to be terrified when they open it and reveal the “slug”! :-)

    9. Sten Says:
      October 14th, 2008 at 5:56 am

      Akebi also grow on Shikoku and in great number.

    10. Hillary Says:
      October 16th, 2008 at 9:34 am

      I googled akebi and found this website. Very cool. I think akebi tasted like vanilla tapioca pudding with an Italian pistachio subtle taste. It’s so rich-only one tablesooon satisfies my cravings for sweets. Why do we not have this fruit in the west?

    11. Jess Says:
      October 20th, 2008 at 12:03 pm

      I just had an akebi today at my elementary school (I teach English). The ripe fruit is actually brown – or the variety that grows around where I work is! The taste is sweet and the texture reminded me of mochi. However, I was told by the other teachers to not eat the seeds – which makes eating it harder, but it still tasted good. =)

    12. abunai Says:
      October 23rd, 2008 at 4:27 pm

      You’ll probably get even more hits, now… the akebi fruit is featured prominently in ep. 25 (the series finale) of the anime “Itazura na Kiss”.

    13. Tori Says:
      September 21st, 2009 at 2:53 am

      If only I had thought to look online for how to eat an akebi… my friends and I on a study-abroad year bought one and decided just to bite straight into it.
      Won’t be doing that again in a hurry. That taste lingers for a good forty minutes or so.

    14. Flick Says:
      September 23rd, 2009 at 9:47 pm

      I had to google ‘akebi’ after I watched Gajyumaru (and COCO chan’s) video on his autumn harvest. There was some odd looking fruit growing on a vine that looked as though it had ‘burst’ open – and now I know what it is – thanks :) Never heard of it before but will look forward to trying the actual fruit in the future.

      For anyone interested in the autumn harvest video (and a wonderful golden retriever): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6vHIIeZNq4

    15. Cathy Says:
      September 29th, 2009 at 11:16 pm

      I came across akebi in Seoul and an ajuma (woman) bought one for us to try. Very scarey. I agree the tapioca texture. Not sure about the sweet part. What was most concerning was the cloying irritation in the back of my throat for several hours. It wouldn’t go away no matter what I tried. Can’t imagine eating the skins. They were pretty thick and looked like walnut husks. All-in-all I wouldn’t change my decision to try. Part of the experience as a traveler is to experience the extraordinary!

    16. PurgatoriX Says:
      October 6th, 2009 at 10:29 am

      I just had akebi for the first time today & it was tasty! I agree about the throat irritation, though. I found that the fruit had at least one long, thin, hair-like fiber & it got caught in my throat! It was about the length of a cat hair & a bit coarse, which I guess is why it didn’t go down properly. Thanks for the recipe for the skins – I’m going to try it today!

    17. Cecilia Says:
      October 6th, 2009 at 12:18 pm

      Akebi is very popular in Yamagata where the skin is eaten. In other parts of Tohoku people apparently peel akebi. A friend from Akita was shocked when at university, a Yamagata classmate cooked the skin and threw away the insides…. hearsay though and 20 years ago. :)

    18. mistyblue Says:
      October 30th, 2009 at 9:21 am

      i just tried this exotic fruit and as soon as i open it, the pod slowly turned brown, but the meat stayed translucent and sweet. the tiny black oval seeds are bitter, so avoid chewing them! well, it didn’t taste special but it’s worth the try. :)

    19. sande springer Says:
      May 10th, 2010 at 12:06 am

      thanks for the info – i planted 2 different variations in my yard and they must have pollenated because I get fruit every year – just didn’t know I could eat it! I just left it for the wildlife, but will definately try it this year – my flowers are blooming so fruit is sure to follow – and i live in massachusetts, usa – have had fruit for about 5 years now, wish I had thought to look it up sooner to see if it was edible ~ thanks everyone~!

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