Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Some time back, I saw one of these on a food blog and thought "How cool! But I'll never be able to buy one."
After last year's love affair with Meyer lemons, this strange and wondrous relative of the lemon seemed a likely candidate for my next crush if only I could lay my hands on one. As luck would have it, a little gourmet grocery store in town that I rarely visit (The Fresh Market) brought one in from California two weeks ago. Actually, they had several, but at $8 a pop, I had to show some restraint. Introducing the Buddha's Hand Citron:
If the wild shape wasn't enough to recommend it--Jim calls it the squid lemon--it has a delightful scent and flavor. Definitely in the lemon family but on the sweeter side and with a floral component. I think it's what you'd get if you combined Meyer lemons with rosewater. The strangest non-shape-related aspect of this lemony food critter is that is has no juice. Nor pulp. Nor seeds. It's nothing but rind and pith.
That does somewhat limit its usefulness if you were hoping to use it in place of a traditional lemon. From what I've read, some people use them as natural air fresheners but most seem to use them for infusing vodka. We're not big on flavored vodkas, so I decided to take advantage of its all-rind-all-the-time nature and use it for candied lemon peel. And candied lemon peel just begs to be dipped in chocolate.
I confess, I was in such a hurry to get the goodies into Christmas packages going out to friends and family that I neglected to take photos of the best examples before I dipped them in chocolate. And I shipped those out before snapping pix of the dipped peel. What's left are the odds and ends but what tasty odds and ends they are! There's also some Buddha's Hand simple syrup resulting from the candying process and it's just hanging around waiting for the resident mixologist to get creative at cocktail hour.
I hope more Buddha's Hand comes my way. The more I think about it, the more ideas I'm having for using the zest/peel in other dishes. Or I might just put one in a big jar of alcohol just to preserve so I can look at it every day. Whimsical fruit makes me happy.