Have you ever tried a finger lime? You really must. Sometimes called citrus caviar, its an Australian native that was all but wiped out from land clearing for white settlement. Gaining in popularity over recent years there are now several companies that grow them and that are working to restore the sub-tropical rainforests that are the natural habitat.
There are many different varieties, I think I read 74 somewhere but I could be wrong, with the “caviar pearls” ranging in colour from green, yellow and translucent to pink and an almost burgundy colour. The taste well, it’s tangy!! Probably best described as somewhere between a lime and a pink grapefruit.
I am rather addicted to them at the moment and have been getting the Alstonville (green seedless) and Pink Ice (clear to pink) varieties whilst they are in season – harvest is late summer to autumn.
There are so many things you can do with them:
- An attractive garnish on all seafoods, I think with all the different colours you can get they would look great on oysters or Japanese dishes
- As a marinade for fish or other seafood – great little burst of flavour as you bite into a pearl
- Sprinkle over a salad or add to the dressing to replace lime or lemon juice
- The pulp is fantastic in alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.. I have tested them in gin and tonics but have also read that they are great in beer and champagne!!
- Great with ice-cream and other desserts – I want to make a Finger Lime Tart
- Finger limes would a wonderful replacement for lemon or citrus rind in cakes, muffins and bakery products.
- Other uses might include jams, sauces and in curries….
…like this one which is not strictly from a cookbook, more of a booklet, but with its double tang hit of finger lime and tamarind I had to try it for this Challenge.
Booklet: Australian Finger Lime Recipes by Finger Limeing Good
Recipe: Malaysian Finger Lime And Chicken Curry
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
7 finger limes, preferably yellow or light green, sliced in half lengthways, remove and save the pearls of one of the finger limes for the garnish
4 chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite size pieces
1 ½ tablespoons of fish sauce
3 tablespoons of tamarind puree
300 ml light coconut milk
1 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon shrimp (prawn) paste
4 whole cloves of garlic chopped
4 small red chillies, deseeded and sliced thinly, use only two chillies for a milder curry
2 teaspoons of finely grated galangal
2 lemongrass stalks, white part only, sliced
1 red onions, chopped
4 kaffir lime leaves, roughly chopped
To make the curry paste, put all the curry paste ingredients in a food processor and process until a thick paste forms. Alternatively you can do it in a mortar and pestle like I did. I wanted to practice my technique after watching David Thompson teach Poh how to do it properly on Poh’s kitchen. I think I am getting better, it’s fun pretending that I am anyway.
Heat the oil in a wok until it starts to smoke, add the curry paste and cook until fragrant about 2 minutes then add the chicken, stir the chicken through to coat with the paste, cook for a further 3 minutes. I struggle to have dishes without vegetables in them so I actually added some roughly chopped okra, beans and red capsicum at this point.
Add the tamarind puree, fish sauce, coconut milk and the finger limes. The air should be heavy with the wonderful aroma of this by now.
Simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally or until the chicken is cooked through, garnish with the kaffir lime leaves and pulp of finger lime. Serve with rice.
This is definitely a dish I will make again. Very easy, very tasty and doesn’t take too long. You can eat the whole lime after it has been simmering away. The rind really breaks down and softens and has a lovely flavour. All I need to do is work out if I can freeze finger limes (or the pearls) to use throughout the year.