You know how once in a while someone recommends a film to you. It’s got that actor you sort of like in it and was directed by that woman who did that other film you liked and was nominated for a bunch of Oscars but never won? You know the film, the one that’s pretty good, maybe not up to all the hype but you should like it, one of your friends saw it and said it was OK. You know that film that you record to your TiVo or Sky+ because you really intend to watch it one day but then it comes to it and actually you’re not sure you feel like a film tonight and you’d rather catch Match of The Day then you must get caught up on Fringe before some fecker at work spoils you on it and ooh, look, The Mummy is on ITV3 again tonight! And so on and so forth until that film has been sitting there recorded and unwatched for about six months and you delete it so you have enough space to record that new Attenborough thing in HD. Yea, That Film. Well the Pomelo is the culinary equivalent of That Film for me. Everyone keeps going on about it and telling me to try one and I will but Tesco don’t do them online and I don’t want to trek down to that really rude bastard of a green grocer on the off chance he has one and I’d rather have a
sandwich pear for now anyway. But I will try one, one day.
Well after a prompt from a friendly tweeter type buddy and a chance slow walk past the noisy cockney fruit and veg man next to Marks, I finally came across one of these glorious beasts in a situation where purchase really was irresistible.
Pomelo: Citrus grandis, Citrus maxima or a ‘shaddock’. Large citrus fruit native to South/South east Asia. Sweet, edible flesh commonly a yellow to green colour, or occasionally a pinky red. Various spellings. Low calorie, very high vitamin C, moderate fibre and iron content.
There’s no ironicus in the latin here, the first thing you’ll notice about a pomelo is that it is huge! The largest citrus fruit going (kids in Assam use them for footballs), it looks like a mutant grapefruit. Mine was bigger than a baby’s head and came in at a reasonable £1.50 to purchase. The first thing I liked about the pomelo is that due to it being so massive, I got to use my posh meat cleaver that I never get to use to cut it in half! Fun. The next thing I liked was the glorious, fresh scent once I sliced through the unusually thick pith into the flesh. It really does have a delightful aroma, clean and crisp and probably what various perfumes and loo cleaners are failing to emulate when they state a ‘citrus’ variety. Really lovely.
My Mr and I opted to sample the pomelo for Sunday breakfast starter, simply sliced open and attacked with a teaspoon. The boy’s verdict was that it tasted like ‘a very mild lemon’ and he was not entirely wrong, though it is a much sweeter, more delicate flesh than you tend to get from it’s smaller relations. The flesh itself is almost crunchy and very satisfying to feast upon, with none of the wink inducing acidity you almost always find with lemons or yellow grapefruit. I immediately thought it’s juice would make a great salad dressing base or a sweet balance to add to a spicy stir fry. However, the one I sampled was not that juicy. The one main ‘against’ point of the pomelo, is that is is kind of a bitch to eat. The pith that segments this mammoth citrus is very thick and fibrous and digging out the little bits of fruit was something of a challenge. Thankfully as it’s so sweet it doesn’t sting like billio when you finally spring forth a lump of flesh a little too roughly and end up squirting yourself in the eye with the juice.
I’m sold on pomelo I think. It will get boring as a simple eating fruit, as most things will, but I really want to try and incorporate it into my general cooking. First off I’m thinking of some kind of pomelo-chilli seafood marinade for BBQ season if this infernal winter ever ends and I reckon the zest will make a really lovely difference to baking. The chinese like it with pork, which I can imagine working and Wikipedia tells us that it is often eaten simply peeled and dressed with a little salt. If this works, am I the only one thinking Pomelo Margaritas?????
So if you find yourself in front of a pomelo, I suggest you eat it! Do pay for it first. It’s rather lovely and a great way to benefit from all the january friendly qualities of fresh citrus without having to pull a funny face when you eat it. You’ll find it in most Asian markets and probably in your bigger supermarkets. Or from the nice cockney fruit and veg man outside Marks in Colchester.