"" What's She Eating Now?: Kumquats Preserved

Monday, March 15, 2010

Kumquats Preserved

I wasn't planning on posting about this but half way through eating the below plate I decided the What's She Eating Now-reading public should know about this little secret. It involves kumquats, a little known member of the citrus family. Allow me to introduce you. Kumquats look like little tiny oranges but sort of oblong and are usually sold in a plastic clam shell similar to a pint of blue berries in the supermarket. You can eat them whole and the taste experience is quite unique: the rind is super sweet and the inside is incredibly sour. After you pucker at the extreme sourness you are tempted to eat just one more because your taste memory is craving that sweetness from the rind again. Pucker. Repeat.

Dan loves kumquats. Personally I have a love hate relationship with them. Love the sweet. Hate the sour. But they are oddly addictive so I keep eating them anyway. But recently a peace maker emerged. A pastry chef friend of mine who taught me a little trick with kumquats that makes them more appealing to the masses and easily incorporated into savory or sweet dishes: preserved kumquats.

  • Take 1 part rice vinegar, 2 parts water, 1 cup sugar, some star anise and cloves and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to ensure the sugar dissolves (the star anise and cloves have a strong flavor so I added them closer to the boiling point)
  • While you are waiting for your brine mixture to come to a boil, wash and then cut kumquats in half and de-pit
  • Pour boiled liquid over them in a bowl
  • Refrigerate overnight
The resulting preserved kumquats are tangy but not overly sour and can be used in savory or sweet dishes. My pastry chef friend used them in a dish that involved an olive oil macaroon with rosemary ice cream. Delicious for sure, but I went for something a little more simple, fennel salad. I sliced the fennel through a mandolin and coated lightly with olive oil, salt, pepper, and some freshly grated Pecorino Romano. Then I cut the preserved kumquats in half again (so in the end they were quartered) and added them. Often one sees fennel salad served with oranges or grapefruit but this is a lovely citrus substitute and an easy dish to make for guests which seems like it was much harder to make than it was. Enjoy!

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