Starfruit in Quick Chilli Plum Dip Recipe

Star light, star bright, starfruit in my tums tonight!

Starfruit season is quickly approaching and I see them popping up in Asian markets already. This delightful fruit, formally named Carambola, is native to Southeast Asia. Its distinct star shape makes it a treat even to children with the pickiest palates.

Starfruit is eaten in many Asian cultures and it is Duan Wu Festival’s signature fruit.

Du what?!

You know, the festival where people race dragon boats! (端午節)


Since I’m on a no-dessert diet for 1 month (what the heck was I thinking?), I’ve been munching on more fruit than ever to satiate my sweet tooth. Dipping ripened starfruit in a spicy, tart, and salty sprinkle is my favourite way to enjoy this subtle, juicy fruit.

Starfruit Dip

Pairing salty with sweet (think watermelon feta salad and salted chocolate caramels) is trending like umami was several years ago. However, the combination of these opposing flavours has been in my repertoire since I was a child. My parents had no problem serving lamb stew with a side of chocolate cake and my favourite treat is salty french fries dipped in ice cream.

Asian cuisine is loved because it skillfully combines a variety of flavours, often kicked up with a dash of heat. Salted dried fruit is a common snack throughout Asia and salty powders are sometimes used to coax out the sweetness in tart fruits such as pineapples and bergamots. Here’s quick fruit dip I concocted that combines sugar, salty dried plums and a hit of chilli to tingle the tip of your tongue. Sounds strange? Give it a try first. This drip can also bring zing to any tart-ish fruit such as kiwi, guava, grapefruit, and even strawberries.


  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 salty dried plums, ground into powder (1/4 cup), available in Asian supermarkets
  • 1 tsp chilli powder

Curious: What’s your favourite sweet and salty combination?

  1. March 18, 2010 by Cookin' Canuck

    Absolute beautiful (as usual)! I love the sweet/spicy combination of flavors.

  2. March 18, 2010 by Tuty @Scentofspice

    I’ve been dipping fresh fruit in something similar except that I incorporate ground dried tangerine peels instead of dried plum.

    Me favorite sweet and salt combo is the addition of grated Gouda cheese in my pineapple tart dough :-). You can see the recipe in my site.

    Great blog, Melody!

  3. March 18, 2010 by admin

    @Tuty – mmm I love the idea of cheese with pineapple :) I bet it’s deeelicious!

  4. March 18, 2010 by Rose

    Very interesting! Salty, sweet and spicy?! Nice combination!! I find that tropical fruits always seem to pair nicely with salt. Fresh papaya with lime and salt is an old favorite.

  5. Mmmm, I love dried plum powder! I usually sprinkle it over diced bell peppers and cherry tomatoes and use it in place of salad dressing – a light, refreshing and tasty alternative.

  6. March 18, 2010 by Leela@SheSimmers

    Ooh, love the fruit dip! In Thailand, when you buy fresh fruit from street vendors, they always, *always*, include a little packet of sugar-salt-dried chilli dip with your fruit. It doesn’t matter if that piece of fruit is sweet or tart; the dip is a necessity.

    Must try this plum idea. Sounds so good.

  7. March 18, 2010 by zenchef

    I was turned on to the dried plum powder on fruit by a chef in Hong Kong a few years back. It was a revelation. This is awesome stuff, Mel! :)

  8. March 18, 2010 by Divina

    My mom loves this dried plum dip but they’re already grounded. I love the combination of the sweet and salty. It can’t go wrong. You have so gorgeous starfruit and they’re really fun to eat.

  9. March 19, 2010 by Ju (The Little Teochew)

    Why didn’t I think of that??? I just had starfruit a few days ago. Very crudely sliced and eaten over the sink. How unglam, right?! LOL.

  10. March 19, 2010 by Mark @ Cafe Campana

    Very cool idea. I love the idea of dipping the fruit a powder. I can imagine making a whole platter of different fruits and a selection of powders.

  11. March 21, 2010 by WizzyTheStick

    Starfruit is also popular in the Caribbean. The favourite way to enjoy it is in a sauce with garlic, salt blackpepper, shadon beni (tastes like cilantro) and scotch bonnet pepper. I love your chilli salt idea – so good. Are the salty plums you refer to what we call salt prunes?

  12. March 21, 2010 by Teresa

    I use to sprinkle salt on grapefruit. But overall best sweet/salty/tangy is sour candies :D

  13. March 22, 2010 by deana@lostpastremembered

    Thanks for hosting the contest and great to visit your blog. Whenever I have salads on set I try to put starfruit in it because it looks so good on camera… delicious idea of umami with fruit… they are so good and taste like warm weather.

  14. March 22, 2010 by Food lover

    Star fruits are so beautiful! The pictures look great.

  15. March 22, 2010 by OribuOlivia

    Simple, but i like my stannnky cheeses with honey. Or watermelon with spicy salt. I guess that’s my cue to go get some star fruit!

  16. March 22, 2010 by MJ

    I am such a huge fan of your blog. I have never had starfruit but now I must seek them out. I live in NYC, where do you suggest I find these wonders? One more thing…your pics are awesome. Is it too much to ask what camera you are using?

  17. March 23, 2010 by diva

    oh yum! I can’t wait for it to get warmer and start sitting out on the rooftop eating this. At home, we eat a dip very similar with guava fruit picked from our back garden :)

  18. March 29, 2010 by jenni

    ive never eaten a starfruit…
    but im going to grab one on my next grocery trip! :) beautiful blog, as always miss melly. <3

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