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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Passion Fruit In The Pumpkin Patch?

I'm crazy about passion fruit. It's a new thing for me. With its brittle reddish-purple wrinkled exterior skin, I've never given it a second glance when rifling through the other more interesting looking exotic fruits while shopping. Prickly pears, horned melons, and cherimoya fruits have wonderfully bumpy and pointy exteriors that always looked like more fun to play with. Although sometimes difficult to work with, they've always been my go-to exotic fruits.....until this past weekend. For the sake of variety, I picked up a huge bag of passion fruit for a tropical fruit platter I planned to serve at an event. 

Not knowing what to expect, I was blown away when I finaly sliced one in half. Gorgeous tiny dark green seeds suspended in a gelatanous pale green yellow mass spilled from the sliced fruit.

After sucking  the seeds and pulp from the shell, I was totally hooked. Sweet, sassy, and tart, it tasted like rich guava.  Guava with attitude. Guava with tart crunchy edible jewels cacooned within the sweet flesh.

Although passion fruit is often eaten fresh, it's usually strained for the juice and used to enhance beverages, syrups, and desserts. For my maiden tasting,  I simply sucked the pulp from the shell and munched on the seeds as juice dribbled down my chin. Fabulous.

I had a few leftover passion fruits rolling around my vegetable bin that I wanted to use for something other than a delicious facial, so I decided to incorporate the pulp and juice into a glaze for sauteed shrimp and vegetables.

After slicing the passion fruit into quarters, I scraped the seeds and pulp into a seive before using a spoon to  extract the juice, allowing the vibrant canary yellow nectar to spill into a small bowl. I ditched the seeds and added fresh squeezed orange juice, lime juice, salt, and cracked pepper. To balance the acidity, I mixed the juices with a teaspoon each of caster sugar, soy sauce, and cornstarch.

After peeling and deveining a pound of 16-20 count jumbo shrimp, I sauteed them briefly in butter and olive oil  before setting them aside. With the skillet still smoking hot, I tossed in sliced purple baby bell peppers, sliced candy onions, diced mangos, halved grape tomatoes, sliced daikon radishes, and minced garlic. Just as the vegetables started to caramelize, I poured the glaze into the skillet, allowing it to spit, bubble, and thicken before adding the shrimp back into the mix to warm through.

With  the sauteed shrimp and vegetables gently napped in the passion fruit glaze, I spooned them into large bowls filled with floral jasmine rice, finishing with a dusitng  of black and white sesame seeds.

Oh, my.  Bowls of tropical paradise. The  plump briny shrimp,  bathed in a tart and slightly sweet glaze, were moist and tender while the vegetables added crisp bites of freshness. Although reminiscent of a sweet & sour stir-fry, it was cleaner and brighter. Think sweet & sour jacked up on steroids.

There was nothing seasonal about it. In fact, I couldn't have veered farther away from autumnal flavors.  
Total diversion.
And totally worth it.

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