Armed but not dangerous

In fact, it's downright delicious
JERRY ANNE DI VECCHIO

It would be hard to find a more defensive-looking comestible than rambutan. But the tropical fruit's spiny, leathery shell protects exceptionally juicy, translucent white flesh. A rambutan looks (inside, at least) and tastes much like fragrant litchi fruit and, like a litchi, has a single large seed. What do you do with rambutans? Just peel and eat ― they're too special and rare to dilute with fussy recipes.

U.S. agricultural quarantines have prohibited importing fresh rambutans from their native Southeast Asia, but the fruit is now grown in Hawaii. It's available from sources like Melissa's Specialty Produce (800/588-0151 or www.melissas.com) from October through early spring.