Friday, March 9, 2012

Ingredient Spotlight - The Kumquat, Nature's Sweet Tart

What is a Kumquat? Until recently, I had no idea myself. They look like adorable miniature oranges.
 I guess I have seen them around but probably passed them over thinking, those are some really tiny oranges.

When I came across a Kumquat Salsa recipe while searching for new fruit salsa inspiration, I knew it was time try Kumquats. I always like to challenge myself to use new ingredients, and there's no time like the present. A quick trip to our local specialty market, and voila:

Photo: NK

Now these are some well-marketed Kumquats. 

No more mistaking the little guys for for weirdo-pygmy oranges, I guess. 

Some further internet research yielded a few fun facts about these diminutive beauties:
Here they are, courtesy of 

"These fruits can be eaten skin and all, so look for organic kumquats, and wash them thoroughly before eating. They are like reverse oranges — the peel is sweet, and the pulp inside is sour." 

"When you eat them together, you get a unique sweet and sour flavor. The seeds are small so either swallow them whole, or spit them out. Kumquats were originally considered to be part of the Citrus family, but in 1915, they were given their very own genus, Fortunella. So technically, even though they look like oranges, they're not actually citrus fruits."

"Kumquats aren't just eaten raw. They can be pickled, candied, made into relish or marmalade, used in desserts, or added to meats."
Kumquats are Photogenic! Photo: NK 

OK, now that we're sufficiently Kumquat-savvy, time to make the salsa:

Kumquat Salsa
Adapted from
Serves 3 as a topping

2 cups cleaned and thinly sliced Kumquats. Once sliced, pop out the seeds as best you can.
1/2 cup chopped Red Onion
1/4 cup chopped Cilantro
2 Tablepoons Olive Oil 
1/4 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper 
A dash of Cayenne Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt 
1 teaspoon champagne or white Vinegar

Photo: NK 

Simply mix all your ingredients in a bowl and taste for seasoning. It's best to let this sit an hour or so in order to marry the flavors. Serve as you would any salsa. This would be great over meat or fish, even as a taco topping. 

Finished Salsa, Photo: NK
Looks yummy, right? 

Now, what to do with it? My plan was to use this Kumquat Salsa as a topping for the salmon dinner I would be making. I often serve sturdy fishes with fruit salsa. I just love the combination of flavors and how salsas really lend themselves to creativity. Last go around, I made a tasty mango salsa for grouper using this easy recipe: 
Grilled Grouper with Mango Salsa

Grilled Grouper with Mango Salsa, Photo: NK

But today, here's how we put our exciting new kumquat salsa to use:

Salmon with Kumquat Salsa, Photo:NK 

All in all, the Salmon with Kumquat Salsa was healthy, tasty and easy (minus the de-seeding process). 
Enjoy, and I hope to spotlight some more lesser-known ingredients in the near future!

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