Sunday, February 8, 2009
I was recently introduced to these little guys as a fruity snack. It didn't take long before I started thinking about ways to cook them. So far I've tried roasting and braising - here I've put them into a tagine with chicken, tomatilloes and jicama.
Tasty, small, sweet on the outside, tart on the inside, pop them into your mouth unpeeled. It's up there with eating peanut shells, shrimp tails or lobster tamale for shock value. They're well behaved when traveling, unlike berries with their sensitive skins, prone to rupture and sticky juice before you get to where you're going, the kumquat is going to arrive intact, its sensible orange peel keeping everything inside. Having to peel these grape-sized things would be a pain in the keester though I'm keen to try something made with kumquat zest some time.
The same thick skinned (relative to berries) -ness that makes them good travel companions can cause problems when you cook them. Problems if you don't cut them up a bit first that is. If you're going to cook them I recommend cutting them in halves or quarters, removing obvious seeds. (No need to go crazy removing seeds if you can eat the thing whole in the first place.) This will allow the super tart insides of the kumquats to dissipate. I didn't do that with all my kumquats in the tagine and cold tart is pretty good but hot tart is not so tasty. Hot, tart kumquat juice will make you pucker.