Fortunella, or Kumquats are named after botanist Robert Fortune, who brought it over to the West from China. The most popular variety available in the US is the Nagami, grown in California, Florida, and Texas. Today was the day that I would become familiar with this fabulously fragrant fruit.
I had seen it before and read about it a couple of times, but had never eaten it, so I decided to take some home. They were so appealing in their little container, oval-shaped mini-tangerine look-alikes. Thinking about what to do with them, I remembered a recipe in Fine Cooking magazine I had seen a while back. It was for a Kumquat Riesling sauce, and looked excitingly easy to accomplish. The only change I make is the removal of the Riesling for water.
I scrape the seeds from a wrinkly vanilla bean carefully and place them in a saucepan along with a few globs of golden honey and some sugar. Next, I chop a small knob of ginger finely, and grab an earth-brown stick of cinnamon. Throwing everything together, I thin out the oozy thick syrup with some water and let it boil for a sec on high-heat. Once the sugar and honey have surrendered and harmoniously draped the other ingredients, the de-seeded & thinly sliced kumquats go in. The kumquat is quite sour in flavor but mellows softly when cooked in a sauce, producing an enchanting and intoxicating citrus scent. The sauce is then simmered for about 40 minutes on low-heat, or until the kumquats have become translucent.
The following recipe will be splendid dribbled over ice cream, baked pastry, or pancakes. Having had a marvelously decadent holiday season, I decided to pour some over low-fat Greek yogurt. Delicious!
Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine
2 1/2 cups water
2/3 cups honey
½ cup sugar
1 knob of ginger chopped ¼-inch-thick
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out
2 cups kumquats, sliced 1/8-inch-thick and seeded
Combine water, honey, sugar, ginger, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean and seeds.
Bring to boil on high heat.
Add kumquats and reduce to medium-low.
Simmer for 40 minutes or until kumquats are translucent.
Serve at room temperature or cold.