I know I have been neglecting this blog a little bit this month, but that is because I am working so hard on Eating Okinawa. But finally, a post I feel fits over here on Crazy White Girl with a Kitchen! This entry is all about a strange little fruit with a lot of bite: shikwasa. It was probably my favorite blog entry to conceive, photograph and research from this year.
Recently at the supermarket I have noticed shikwasas available in large amounts, for a very low price (compared to lemons and limes). However, I was confounded; how are they used in such large amounts? They are so small and hard to handle I could not imagine juicing any more than five at a time. Additionally they can be so sour, would I even want juice anyhow?
First however – what ARE they? シークヮーサー are very small citrus fruits, about the size of a key lime, 4-5 centimeters in diameter. Their thin rind is green, they are packed with seeds and very very tart, but with an orangey flavour instead of lemon or lime. They originally came to Okinawa from the nearby country of Taiwan. They are said to be high in vitamin C and in nobiletin, which is thought to help control blood glucose levels and thereby keep blood pressure low.
When I cut into them and smell the citrus scent I am almost immediately transported to the streets of Bangkok. You know – where they juice those green oranges at little carts for the sweet nam som or orange juice sold in bottles for a pittance. Smelling shikwasa early in the day makes my mornings a little easier to swallow when I get to think about Bangkok.
I went about making an effort in thinking up seven different ways to use shikwasa. Some ranged from exceedingly simple to somewhat complicated. Most are just reimaginations of other recipes, so nothing too out there. Just enough to get you thinking about using this special Okinawan ingredient in different ways.
I made five out of these seven recipes, and hope to try the remaining two soon.
1: Shikwasa mint syrup for fruit salad
When a food blogging friend of mine from back home Tweeted one morning he was making fruit salad, it got me thinking about a lime based dressing I used to make for my fruit salad. However, limes and lemons can be really expensive here, so I looked to the shikwasas as an alternative, and made my favorite citrus based syrup for the fruit salad.
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 1/2 cup of water
- 2 tablespoons of shikwasa juice
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh mint
Combine sugar and water in a small pot, bringing it to a boil on the stove. Turn off once sugar has dissolved. In a small bowl combine shikwasa and mint, pouring sugar mixture over mint and citrus juice mix. Makes approximately 10 tablespoons of “dressing.” Pour by the tablespoon over freshly cut fruit to taste.
This makes enough syrup to keep in the fridge for a few batches of fruit salad.
2: Shikwasa water
I really do not like drinking water. But living in Okinawa, you have to due to the heat. I have some packets of Crystal Light to help me get the water down in the amounts I need, but the artificial sweetener can give me a headache. So in the morning I squeezed one of the leftover shikwasas from making the fruit salad dressing into my water and it made it refreshing and crisp and easier to get down. Shikwasa juice is said to help control blood sugar and is credited with keeping aged Okinawans healthy.
3: Grilled salmon with maple-shikwasa glaze
- 2 tablespoons fresh shikwasa juice
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- salmon fillets
- salt and pepper to taste
Combine the ingredients in a small bowl. Brush over salmon and grill.
Since we got our little patio grill, The Stache has been a gem and grills at least once a week. I cannot wait to try this glaze out on some of the delicious salmon available at the local farmer’s market.
4: Shikwasa ceviche
Citrus and fish just go together, and shikwasa works wonders in a ceviche.
- 1 lb of whitefish – we used a mix of tai (red snapper) and hamachi or yellowtail. It was already sliced thinly as it was sashimi.
- Juice of 6 shikwasas
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 hot pepper, chopped finely (I used the Korean kochu pepper since that is all my supermarket routinely carries)
- half of an onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro/coriander
- salt and pepper to taste
- pinch of cayenne pepper
Place fish in a non metal platter with a slight lip. Place onions on the fish. Add remaining ingredients, and cover with the juices. Allow to sit in refrigerator atleast 30 minutes, up to 4 if you can.
I served it with a black bean salad for additional South American flavor. (recipe here, via Fine Cooking)
5: Shikwasa Watermelon mint daquiri
This recipe was born after my fridge froze a very expensive slice of watermelon.
- 4 cups peeled, seeded and cubed watermelon (about 1/6 of a watermelon)
- 1/2 cup rum (I used dark, most people use light)
- 1/4 cup shikwasa juice
- 2 tablespoons sugar syrup (You can also use 1/4 cup triple sec)
- two ice cubes
- 2 tablespoons mint
Blend ingredients together. Serve immediately. Makes 5 cups.
6: Shikwasa blueberry muffins
I have yet to make this but I think it would be good. I baked a lot back home but in Japan I find my tiny oven a real inconvenience and prefer not to waste time and money experimenting with temperatures and baking times.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons shikwasa juice (about 2 shikwasas)
- 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, tossed in 2 tablespoons flour
In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl beat the egg, milk and oil. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Fold in the blueberries and shikwasa juice. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full and bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes. This makes one dozen muffins. You could also turn it in mini loaves.
7: Shikwasa pie parfait / Shikwasa curd
This is the most time intensive recipe for using shikwasas, but I thought it was the best use.
- 1/2 – 3/4 cups orange juice from approximately 20 shikwasas
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 large egg
- 2 large yolks
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks and softened
- pinch of salt
Pour the shikwasa juice into a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring the juice to a rapid simmer and let it reduce down to approximately 1/4 cup. This should take 2-4 minutes.
Transfer the juice to a measuring cup to cool. Stir in the lemon juice.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, yolks, and sugar. When the juice has cooled to room temperature, whisk it into the egg mixture in a steady stream.
Pour the egg and juice mixture back into your small sauce pan and set it over medium heat. Stir slowly but constantly until the mixture has thickened to a pudding-like consistency – about 6-8 minutes.
Pour the mixture into a clean bowl. Stir in the butter and the pinch of salt while the curd is still warm. Store the curd in a clean jar with a lid. It will keep refrigerated for about a week.
I served this curd over pancakes, and layered with freshly whipped cream and graham cracker crumbs as a sort of “pie.” It would be great on toast, in tart cups…all sorts of situations.
In closing, shikwasas are wonderful. They have a load of seeds so straining is almost necessary, but the juice to size pay off is pretty good. Try using a shikwasa instead of a lime or lemon in your favorite recipe – you might be pleasantly surprised.