Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kumquat: The Inside-Out Citrus (...that's not necessarily citrus)

References to kumquats (gam gwat - golden orange) can be found in Chinese literature in the 12th century.  Kumquats preserved in salt and stirred into hot water are a Cantonese remedy for a sore throat.

They are neither an orange nor are they consistently identified as citrus. They are classified in the genus Fortunella, named for Robert Fortune, the Scottish botanist. Fortunel brought the 'nagami' (oval kumquat) to the West in the mid-1800's and it remains the type. Other types are: the meiwa, the marumi and the Hong Kong kumquat. (From: Saveur)

I'd seen them around over the years, but I had NO clue what to do with them and if I'm to be honest, I'll tell you that I wondered why the hell you'd go to the necessary trouble to peel something so small (Oh! Ignorant! DivinaLoca!).

I buy my avocados at the Brokaw Farms stand at the Ferry Plaza farmer's market. They mostly grow avocados but they grow and sell other fruit, notably delicious Gold Nugget mandarins, blood oranges, cherimoya (these are amazing- and another "Who knew?" moment after I  popped my cherimoya this winter) guavas and meiwa kumquats. Will's are the only kumquats I've knowingly eaten, but I've read that the meiwas are sweeter than other varieties.

One morning I bought a handful. When I got them home I cut one open, surprised at the tiny amount of pulp compared to the peel, and seeds - there were two or three seeds per kumquat. In the spirit of "What the hell", I popped one in my mouth.

SourSweetAromatic~Wow!~ButTheSweetIsComingFromThePeel~WOW! Seeds were no bother, I just crunched right through them. I buy them every week now when they're available but like strawberries, I never seem to get around to doing anything with them, I just eat them.  Last night, Liz (of Today's Special) posted that she, "...sliced [them] in a salad with toasted walnuts and shaved Piave cheese..." I might actually stop the hand-to-mouth repetition for that.

Other recipes I'm looking at are:

What about:
  • Salsa - with kumquats, red onions, cilantro, and maybe a little chipotle in adobo?
  • Vodka-Kumquat infusion? Kumqua'cello?
  • Lamb stew with kumquats and olives?
  • A warm salad of lightly sauteed chard with kumquats and shallots?

Although it has already passed (it is held in late January), Florida has a kumquat festival or you can watch a cute-bordering-on-annoying video on how to eat a kumquat on YouTube, or you can just trust me and when you see them, buy a few and just pop one in your mouth.

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