The Mighty Pomelo
In Western cultures the pomelo is a bit like the odd one out of the citrus family. It’s only in Southeast Asia that it is made to feel at home – well, because it is home. In some ways, it’s a wonder that the citrus industry even bothers to market it in places like Canada. But thankfully it is here. I urge you to discover just how wonderful this big beauty is.
The Latin name for pomelo is the rather appropriate Citrus maximus, the giant of the citrus world. Some varieties are as big as a soccer ball. Its size makes it just a little harder to ship, package, and price. Do you sell it by weight, or as a unit? If you sell it by weight, the consumer is sure to ask, how much did I pay for the peel? Because 30 percent of the total weight, or 50 percent by volume, is peel, but you can use the zest for marmalade and shrubs.
To better understand the pomelo, we have to meet it on its own terms. The pomelo is not a grapefruit! The grapefruit is a hybrid off-spring of a sweet orange and the pomelo. If we compare it to a grapefruit, you risk missing its own distinct flavour, subtle, floral, and its own unique physical features. More importantly we might miss what it brings to the kitchen and the cocktail bar. Try it in a next level Pomelo Greyhound!
The best way to start is to just dive in – buy one and eat it. Peeling this large citrus requires a knife and therefore an adult in attendance. It’s fun and if you have kids around, they love the process. It’s large size and thick rind amuses the kids, and the less bitter, sweeter fruit is a revelation. It has a firm texture that makes it easy to eat with your fingers; you won’t have juice running out all over the place. This is also why pomelo works so well in a salad, or on a fruit plate.
Variations of the recipe below, can be found throughout Southeast Asia, which isn’t surprising, because what grows together gets cooked together. Not fussy about shrimp? Go up-market with crab. Pork and chicken also work well. Like home cooking everywhere, the idea is versatility, and the results, attractive and very tasty.