Popular Post abcdefg Posted March 16, 2019 at 12:31 PM Popular Post Report Share Posted March 16, 2019 at 12:31 PM The arrival of pipa fruit 枇杷果 in the market is one of those markers of spring that always lifts my spirits after a cold winter. This bright yellow fruit is a distant relatives of apples and pears, though they are only a fraction of the size, most of the time being smaller than a chicken egg. Even though they exist in the west, being called loquat, they have not enjoyed commercial success mainly because they bruise easily and can't be picked green. They need to turn color on the tree and be handled with care. China is the original sources of this slightly tangy, soft-pulped fruit, and it's mentioned in ancient writing, including some poems of Li Bai 李白，though please don't embarrass me by asking which ones. They grow best where it's warm and thus are easier to find in the south of China, 江南 and below. The northeast 东北 gets them trucked up or flown in. They are popular in parts of Japan and Korea, as well as Southeast Asia and India. Sometimes they are called "Japanese plums" even though that is incorrect and misleading. A large part of their appeal lies in their balance between sweetness and acidity. Chinese medicine TCM 中医 praises them as being good for sore throat and cough. The leaves also have a medicinal use, but that is beyond the scope of my knowledge. At my neighborhood wet market, they currently sell for between 30 and 35 Yuan a kilo, with the larger ones fetching top dollar. Today I found a pushcart peddler 小摊 just outside the gate selling smaller, less perfect ones for only 15 Yuan and I snapped up a fast kilogram 公斤 of them. I usually just eat them raw after washing but today I decided to poach some to make a light, fruity desert. It was simple to do and came out real tasty, so I thought I would show you how in case you are lucky enough to find some. Here's what mine looked like. Step one, as you probably guessed, was to wash them well with several changes of water. Please click the photos to enlarge them. Most of us in China peel 剥皮 them before eating. If you live in Florida, Louisiana, or south Texas and have a loquat tree in your back yard, then there is really no need for this extra step. The skin isn't tough or bitter; it has a very fine fuzz, kind of like a peach. Actually, I've read that the skin has lots of nutrients, but unless you know the grower doesn't use pesticides, it's probably best to invest a few more minutes making them safe. Cut them in half, not around the equator, but from flower end to stem end, as shown. They peel easily enough with fingernails or a small knife. Remove the central seed 核, which sometimes is split into two or three parts. Cut away any tough bits around the stem and where the flower was at the base. Use a spoon to scrape out the tough, shiny white membrane 筋膜 around the seed. As you work, drop the finished fruit into a pan of water so they don't turn brown. Poach them in enough plain water to cover the fruit for 20 to 30 minutes over low flame, until tender. I cover the pan after it first comes to a boil. Sometimes I add a teaspoon or two of lemon juice, but this particular batch was tart enough without it. The last 5 minutes or so, I added a little rock sugar 冰糖, turning the poaching liquid into a light syrup. I use a tablespoon of rock sugar for each cup of fruit, but it's easy enough to adjust that to taste. Just as I was finishing these today a friend came to visit and brought me a bag of deluxe and prize-winning 枸杞 (gouqi/"wolfberries") that she had gotten on a recent business trip to Ningxia 宁夏 where the best ones in all of China are grown. These were head and shoulders better than the ordinary ones I was getting ready to use. Easy to see how longer and plumper and richer in color hers were. Used a small palm-full of them instead the ones from my larder. Added them right at the end. Let it cool and served it up. Put the remainder of the batch into a jar that I had on hand, first washing it well with boiling water. They will keep in the refrigerator 3 or 4 days. Doing the fruit prep isn't difficult, but it takes a little time. I clocked it at 17 minutes for my kilogram of fruit, starting slow and picking up speed towards the end. When you buy, remember that you will lose about a quarter of the weight in the process of getting them ready, so don't be too skimpy. Pretty tasty! Give them a try if you have a chance. Plain raw pipa fruit 枇杷果 isn't too shabby either, just eaten right out of your hand. it's OK to let the juice run down your arm. 5 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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