Behind the scenes – Gac Fruit juice for Compass magazine

Duang writes a monthly column for Compass magazine where he introduces various vegetarian dishes and new ideas to the Chiang Mai city audience in both Thai and English. With his new restaurant under renovation he invited me over to see his photoshoot for the new issue and see him making some delicious juice from one of the most nutritious fruits available.

I had never heard of the Gac fruit but it is quite popular in Vietnam in particular where it is often eaten as part of festivities such as the Tet New Year celebrations. When I looked into the facts Gac contains some pretty impressive health benefits, over 70 times the amount of Lycopene found in tomatoes and around 10 times the amount of Beta Carotene in carrots.

It is kind of flavourless though and Duang suggested that drinking it unmixed would not be very tasty so we were going to try juice with Orange, pineapple and starfruit.
First the photographers and I prodded and poked the strange looking fruit, showing that this is even uncommon for Thai people, and then slicing one in half the photoshoot commenced.

After some nice shots had been taken Duang scooped out the fleshy insides of the fruit which contain a lot of large seeds. These seeds are black and white, male and female, but it is the pulp around the seeds that we needed to make the juice and it needs to be concentrated. First using a strainer Duang pours water onto the seeds and using his hands scrapes the flesh off into a bowl, this process is repeated 4 or 5 times until the seeds are clean and there is a bowl full of watery Gac fruit flesh. He used around 1 litre of water for 3 Gac fruit.

This liquid is then brought to the boil with a pinch of salt and the resulting concentrate will keep for a long time in the fridge.
We then freshly juiced some oranges and used his “Champion” juicer to juice 2 pineapples and several starfruit. It’s a pretty cool juicer, the juice comes out the bottom and the pulp out of the end… simple.

The Gac fruit may not have a strong taste but it does have a strong colouration and so because of this it would be difficult to distinguish which juice was which. The solution is obvious, as Duang’s food stylist nature comes out and a beautiful garnish is applied to each glass.

After another photoshoot with the finished juices we got to try the pineapple and starfruit (which turned out to be the sour variety so Duang added some honey). Generally these will be served without any added sugar or water though. The Pineapple was especially delicious as was the mix of all three that we had at the end, hopefully this will be a successful seller at the new restaurant.

Speaking of which, it is coming along nicely. I helped with some moving the other day, riding around the city on the back of an overloaded pickup truck, which was fun. The guys had the really hard work though, sawing the edge off a table which we really struggled to get into the kitchen..

It’s coming together now though, Duang has a new sign up and the plan is to open for the soft launch next week..

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