Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Tropical Fruit Cookery

It's officially Dry season here in the rainforest which means the weather is humid and steamy, but the ground is dry. The fruits available at the local markets have changed from the mid winter selection I wrote about in June.

Yellow sapote cut in half

I've gone mad for eggnog smoothies. Yellow sapote is, unromantically, known as the 'egg yolk fruit'. It is the colour and texture of a hardboiled egg yolk, and kind of sweet and bland. Blended with whatever other soft fruits are left over from the guest's breakfast platter
(white sapote is best, black sapote turns it a very unpleasant colour), some yoghurt, apple juice and most importantly cinnamon and vanilla, I enjoy something approximating a tropical virgin eggnog.

Eggnog smoothie

I helped out at the Exotic Fruit Farm for a few hours last week and Alison gave me a couple of breadfruits to experiment with. Breadfruit is amazingly versatile and generous. Unripe breadfruit it's used as a savory vegetable, and overripe it's good baked in a sweet batter.

Breadfruit: ripe on left, unripe on right.

The white spots on the skin of the breadfruits are latex sap which is a sticky leakage from the unripe fruit that totally covered the knife I cut it open with and had to be removed with kerosene. There are a few latex-leaking fruits around. Whenever I eat abiyu, no matter how careful I am, I always end up with sticky lips for the next few hours. It's probably lucky there's no one round here to be kissing with, since as Alison says, its a long term committment if you've both been eating abiyu.

Overripe breadfruit flesh ready to mix into batter

But back to the breadfruit. First I scooped out the mushy insides of the overripe specimen and realised I had enough to try two different recipes: (they all seem to require one cup of breadfruit). I made a slightly sweet, slightly spiced, quick bread which was demolished by two boys on a break from filling Easter Island heads with concrete.

Remains of breadfruit bread

Later I made doughnuts which were delicious, if slightly burnt. Its been years and years since I made doughnuts but they still always remind me of Jo who gave me her doughnut recipe when our daughters were very small. I went through a brief doughnut making binge, got very fat and had to stop. But even decades later I remember how hard it is to not burn sweet batter in a wok full of hot oil.

Breadfruit chips (uncooked)

The a couple days later I chopped up the underripe breadfruit into chips, tossed them in spicey dukkha (breadfruit chips would be too bland) and roasted them. Some of them were quite tough, and I'm not sure if that's because I didn't remove enough of the core, cooked them too long, or used the fruit too soon. But we ate them all anyway, before I remembered to take a photo.

The newest additions to the Cape Tribulation moai family.


PG said...

This is like a missive from another planet! I'm intrigued by your exotic fruits (apples just don't sound the same...). Sending chilly November winds to cool you down a little.

Carol said...

When I spent some time in Funafuti, Tuvalu, a friend made me breadfruit chips and I thought they were the best thing I'd ever eaten. The day I left he arrived at the airport with an icecream container of chips which was one of the nicest, most unexpected gifts I've ever received. These were crisps, not chunky chips, lightly salted and not at all bland.