Monday, April 11, 2011

ingredient spotlight: kumquats

Please welcome the fruit with arguably the strangest name: the kumquat. I bought them by the bag-full in the Chinese wet market nearby. I get my weekly fruit and vegetables from a wrinkly lady who knows her produce but can't communicate with me at all besides showing me numbers on her calculator. I make it a policy to try something new to me each time I go there, and I'm usually pleasantly surprised with the results.

These olive-shaped beauties are in season now (between January and April) in the northern hemisphere, not just in Asia. Kumquats are relatives of other citrus fruits, but unlike the rest, they can be eaten whole, skin and all. The skins are perfumed and sweet, while the flesh is tart and punchy. This combination makes them an outstanding addition to recipes both sweet and savoury.

The odd name is based on the Chinese kam kwat, which means golden orange. Kumquats are common and popular here in Hong Kong, especially around the Lunar New Year, which this year was in early February. With my bagful of kumquats I made two stunning recipes. Kumquat and chocolate chunk cookies were made with whole wheat flour and were a perfect pairing of zesty and sweet, and a delightful addition to an afternoon cup of tea. Kumquat mint marmelade was great on toast, but was also a winner as a topping for fish (or chicken, I imagine).

Kumquat and Chocolate Chunk Cookies, adapted from Everybody Likes Sandwiches

Kumquat Mint Marmalade, adapted from Serious Eats

Have you ever cooked or baked with kumquats?


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