In Brisbane, Australia farmers recently held a two day meeting where an international expert in food marketing claimed that people overseas had no idea what food Australia produces.
And he is probably right. Other than a slab of kangaroo steak and Anzac biscuits what is quintessentially Australian? Pavlova perhaps - no that’s from New Zealand, Vegemite then – that’s actually a British invention. But there is a small fruit that is emerging from Australia that is exciting chefs the world over and that is the finger lime.
Growing wild in the North West territories’ rainforests the finger lime, or microcitrus australiasica to be precise, is a thorny bush growing up to 25 feet which is now being grown commercially for its amazing fruits. Looking like a sort of gherkin with its zest available in a range of colors from white, yellow, green, burgundy through to black, the finger lime’s secret isn’t revealed until it is sliced open. On cutting through the skin, out tumbles a mass of tiny pearls that are bursting with a citrus flavor. These vesicles pop like caviar on the tongue releasing sweet microburst’s of lime.
Ferran Adria of El Bulli fame was said to have been moved to tears on trying these fruits and created a dish of angel hair pasta, sea urchins and ‘lime caviar’. The finger limes are now being made into marmalades and curds with the vesicles suspended through the curds to retain their popping sensations. But they could be used in so many ways where a splash of lime is called for. How about lime caviar mayo, or in syrup drizzled over ice cream, serving it alongside any seafood would make a divine pairing.
Unfortunately they are in very short supply as the world’s chefs hanker to get their hands on these zesty little fingers of joy. Fortuitously, for the Australian producers and for us, they do freeze well and a company in Colorado (sinfullyaustralian.com) has started importing them.
So until they are more readily available, relax with a cool drink and await their arrival. Shame really as they are said to be very good with gin.
Photos courtesy of flickr - Leang man, DT Pearson1975, el aderezo