When I was growing up in Texas, kumquats and their non-related look-a-likes, loquats or Japanese plums, were common in backyards. We weren’t fortunate to have our own but neighbors and relatives were more than happy to share. Over the years, I have bought them when available but never have I seen them as plentiful or as inexpensive as here in Egypt. It must be the season because I bought a bag of more than two pounds or one kilo for about 50 cents in American money. And, boy, was I delighted because I had just the recipe I wanted to adapt for them from, once again, my new favorite cookbook Fried Chicken and Champagne.
About 2 pounds or 1 kilo kumquats
1 1/2 cups or 355ml orange juice
1 1/4 cups or 295ml rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper or red pepper flakes
2 in or 4cm piece of cinnamon stick
1 large, thick thumb-sized piece fresh ginger
4 cups or 900g sugar
1 large fresh chili pepper
Wash your kumquats and remove any stems. Finely slice them, removing any large green seeds.
Pile them in a bowl and cover them with the orange juice. Push them down into the juice a little if necessary. Cover the bowl with cling film and let marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
The next day, peel your ginger and grate it finely into something that saves the pulp and the juice, because you’ll want to use both in the next step.
|About as long as my thumb, but thicker.|
In a large saucepan off of the stove, add in the kumquats, rice vinegar, red pepper, cinnamon stick, ginger and sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and pick out any large green seeds you might have missed.
Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn the fire down. Cook until it thickens to your desired consistency. The original recipe had some interesting instructions about bringing it to the boil and turning it down three times, so I did this, only to realize that I wanted the sauce to be more like a chutney. Boiling only three times left it very runny. I abandoned all that up-flame-down-flame and just gave it a steady very low boil, stirring every few minutes, until it was pretty thick. Remember that once it cools, it will thicken even more so stop before you can stand a spoon in it or it will be too thick cold.
|Be careful at the beginning because the sugar really makes it bubble up. You do not want this to boil over!|
Meanwhile, mince your fresh chili, discarding the seeds if you don’t like things too spicy. My pepper wasn’t very hot so I serious considered adding two. Then I remembered the crushed red pepper and thought better of it. But you can judge for yourself.
Once the chutney almost thick enough, add in the minced pepper. Stir and cook just a few minutes longer. You want the pepper to retain its color. Turn off the fire and remove the cinnamon stick. It’s done.
While it cools, take your helper out to play with the handful of leftover kumquats.
This was divine with bacon-wrapped, pan-fried chicken breasts, as well as pork chops. (YES, I FOUND PORK CHOPS IN CAIRO! And they were, despite reports to the contrary, cheaper than steak.) I don’t have any clean empty jars or I would have bottled the chutney boiling hot, like I did with the pepper sauce here. It’s in Ziplocs in my fridge, if anyone wants some.
|With bacon-wrapped chicken breasts. Oh, man!|
|Pan-fried pork chops!|
If you are a lover of sweet and sour and especially if you are also a lover of orange marmalade, this is the chutney for you.