December 03, 2012

Feature Ingredient

Buddha's Hand Salad 

Striking, eh? Buddha's Hand plant is a citron variety. The origin of the this plant can be traced back to Northeastern India & China. I found mine at Whole Foods. And it was quite the attention grabber. 

In Buddhist tradition this beautiful fruit is used as a religious offering. It is said that Buddha prefers the "fingers" of the fruit to resemble a closed hand rather than an open one, as closed hands symbolize to Buddha the act of prayer. 

I paid homage to the fruit in the form of a zesty salad dressing. The finger-like fruit has the same waxy texture as a lemon, while the inside of the fruit is all pith. There is no juicy pulp as is typical with most citrus fruits, making its culinary uses perplexing. However the fruit is gushing with fragrance and the zest from the rind makes for a spectacular addition to a salad dressing. 

1 Buddha hand 
1 tbsp olive oil
1.5 tsp white wine vinegar
1 lemon 
2-3 fresh thyme sprigs, minced
salt and pepper to taste
yield: 3 oz

1. using a microplane or a fine grater, grate the zest off of the fingers of the Buddha hand over a bowl. pull apart the fingers as necessary

2. squeeze the base of the fruit, where the fingers meet, to gather any juice

3. while whisking, slowly pour olive oil over the rind & juice. add white wine vinegar & continue to whisk, add juice from one lemon & continue to whisk

4. pull leaves off of thyme sprigs & finely mince (I swear by the Wusthof Santoku knife). add to dressing, stir

5. add salt and pepper to taste. white pepper lends a nice, subtle flavor here

6. toss dressing with 1 small container baby romaine leaves, segments from 4 clementine oranges & 1/2 cup crushed hazelnuts. serves 4 as a side salad. some roasted beets and goat cheese would also pair nicely to make more of a complete meal.

other possibilities:

Buddha Gremolata
Chop together the zest from one Buddha Hand with a generous handful of fresh parsley & garlic until everything is finely minced. Add a grind or two of black pepper and strew over roasted or braised meats, pasta dishes or grilled seafoods & vegetables.

Buddha Roast Chicken
Stuff the cavity of a whole chicken with several Buddha fingers, 1 quartered onion, several fresh thyme and rosemary sprigs & 1 clove of garlic coarsely chopped. Salt and pepper the chicken. Roast chicken until cooked through. If using 1/2 chicken, line roasting pan with the above ingredients and lay the 1/2 chicken on top and squeeze lemon juice all over.

Buddha Gin Cocktail
Use fingers as a garnish with a gin cocktail - rub Buddha rind around the rim of the glass, twist & add finger to 1 oz of gin. serve up or on the rocks. 

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