Downtown Juicy Brown
Anyone interested in a fruit that tastes like tangy brown sugar? Look in Chinatown markets for a marvel called the “chiko,” or what is more commonly known as a sapodilla, pronounced sa-po-DEE-ya. The tropical evergreen fruit is native to Central America, but it produces well in the Hawaiian sun.
Sapodillas range from the size of a chicken egg up to a small avocado, and its outer skin resembles a kiwifruit: bumpy, dull and fibrous. Inside its pear-like textured meat are several large, inedible, brown seeds. A tip: Leave the fruit on a windowsill, and when it becomes soft and slightly wrinkled it is the perfect time to dig in and savor. The skin will peel off easily with a knife and the flesh will split into sections. (A vendor from the Oahu Marketplace, at North King and Kekaulike streets, recommended this method to me for prime consumption.)
Despite its caramel taste, sapodillas have not been used much in local culinary rounds. In Vietnam, however, they’re so sweet that they’re sometimes used in shakes. Indeed, these make for healthy alternative snacks or desserts.