The best time to serve tropical fruit is during the holidays.
There is no greater luxury than a platter of perfectly cut fruit. Just ask chefs Justin Pichetrungsi and Calvin Eng (both 2022 F&W Best New Chefs), who serve thoughtful, gorgeous fruit platters as the grand finale to a meal at their respective restaurants, Anajak Thai in Sherman Oaks, California, and Bonnie’s in Brooklyn. And it’s not just impressive in restaurants: When entertaining this holiday season, consider laying out a large plate of well-sourced and -prepared fruit. Whether enjoyed at the beginning or end of a meal, the fresh, crunchy, and juicy fruit can provide a welcome respite from the endless parade of rich holiday dishes. Follow these pro tips on how to assemble a truly showstopping fruit platter at home.
How to build the fruit platter of your dreams
1. Pick your fruit
There is no wrong fruit, according to Pichetrungsi and Eng — except for fruit that is unripe or overripe. Use a mix of what is easily available at your farmers market or grocery store, plus a few more leveled-up choices, like dragon fruit, that might require a trip to a specialty market (or easily can be ordered online).
2. It’s all in the cut
No matter what you choose, a fruit platter should always feel luxurious. Every fruit should be easy to eat without a utensil. Plus, “knife cuts can modify flavor,” explains Pichetrungsi. That’s why certain fruits taste better when thinly sliced.
3. Keep it cool
For the most refreshing fruit, keep everything chilled. Pichetrungsi suggests filling your serving vessel with ice to provide a cold base. Another good option is to chill the platter itself before piling on the fruit, which Eng does at Bonnie’s.
4. Garnish as you please
As for garnishes, both chefs keep it pretty simple. You could throw a few mint leaves or edible flowers on top, or even serve it with a spice mix for dipping, but think of those as optional. Fruit is beautiful and delicious on its own.
What to curate for your fruit platter
Mangoes are not only crowd-pleasers; they’re also great space-fillers. Once you’ve halved a mango around its seed, score the flesh so it looks like a grid. Push from the skin side so the mango skin is concave and the fruit pops up for easy snacking.
Start the peel for your guests, but leave the majority of it on — the peel's oils help perfume the eating experience. Either cut the stem end off like a little hat, or spiral the peel using a paring knife. Alternatively, cut your citrus into wedges, then slice off the white pith at the center and de-seed the wedges before placing them on a platter.
Dragon fruit and melons
Both chefs slice these fruits into skin-on wedges. They then run a knife down to the peel (without cutting all the way through it) to carve out pieces for easy eating.
Pears and apples
Pichetrungsi loves to use Asian pears on his platters, cutting them into the thinnest-possible slices using a very sharp knife then fanning them out. Use the same approach for other pears and for apples.
Eng adds grapes to the platter last, which he likes to do in bunches, filling in any negative space like you would on a cheese board. “Once you hit it with the grapes, the platter can go from good to epic,” he says.
Lychees and longans
Pichetrungsi uses the curved blade of a bird’s beak knife to cut around the circumference of the fruit then peels off the top half. $99 at madeincookware.com
Where to order tropical fruit year-round
Founder Desiree Morales partners with farms in South Florida, the Caribbean, South America, and beyond to deliver the freshest tropical fruit boxes to anywhere in the United States.
You can trust Melissa’s Produce, the largest distributor of specialty produce in the United States, for high-quality, in-season fruits and vegetables. Want a constant supply of tropical fruit? Try one of the monthly subscriptions.
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