You say to-mah-to, I say tamarillo.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

No, not armadillo.

Say it with me - tamarillo, which according to this website is a made-up word combining the Maori word Tamar (leadership) and illo (possibly from the Spanish amarillo, meaning yellow). This interesting fruit is actually related to the tomato, hence its other name of Tree Tomato.

I saw my first tamarillo while holidaying in the highlands of Malaysia as a child (not sure if they are still being grown there). However, I wasn’t really interested in tasting the fruit. I figured if I wanted a tomato, I’d eat a proper tomato and not a distant cousin, thank you very much.

Fast forward many, many years later, where I encountered the tamarillo again in Sydney fruit shops. I still wasn’t tempted, because I assumed the fruit needed to be cooked first to be enjoyed. (Same reasoning I used for quince, but hey, look at me now!).

Then I chanced upon a snippet in the newspaper explaining how tamarillo could be eaten fresh, like kiwifruit. Well, no more excuses not to bring some home. (Go away grammar police).

 The skin is inedible, but the flesh tasted like: “passionfruit!”, “rockmelon (cantaloupe)!”, “lemon!” cried the mini-critics. They were right, it tasted like all of the above, with a bit of tomato and a pinch of salt thrown in. I can’t say I was instantly besotted by the taste, but it is a very interesting flavour.

Next, I poached some in sugar syrup (I used 1 part sugar to 1.5 parts water). Following tips in The Cook’s Companion, I cut a cross in the base of the fruit, and poached them whole. When cooked and cool enough to handle, I peeled the skin off (like skinning a tomato), then returned the fruit to the poaching syrup to cool. Leaving the skin on turned the syrup a beautiful shade of red. However, I found the skin leaves a slightly medicinal, almost bitter, taste in the syrup. It wasn’t off putting, but I’m not quite sure whether I liked it.

Visually though, it is so dramatic served next to something pale, like this panna cotta. It would go well with whipped cream or ice-cream too I think.

 Now that I’ve conquered the tamarillo, I think I might try chokos next ;). What about you? Eaten any interesting produce lately?


Bo said...

I wish I could get those here...I'd love to try it.

Barbara said...

That's a new one on me, Shaz. Very interesting. And the fact that it rather looks like a tomato but tastes like passion fruit is amazing.

Jill@MadAboutMacarons said...

I love your post and your inspiration is catching - must get a hold of those tamarillos and get cooking! Fantastic.

Keely aka The Richest Girl in Bondi said...

I'd really love to try a tamarillo now (being a big passionfruit lover) -- the photos look great. Have you heard of any other ways it can be eaten raw? Would you use it more as a tomato or as a fruit? So interesting ..

Jen (Tastes of Home) said...

wow sounds interesting and you're right it looks gorgy :) I must keep a look out for these now, don't think I've seen them in Msia at least not recently.

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

Saya pun tak cuba-cuba lagi buah ini. Chokos is nice that one already tried.

Hungry Dog said...

How interesting--I have never heard of this! I learn so much from you and your blog! :) I love passionfruit though so I am sure I would like it. I also like the term "rockmelon"--never heard that before.

muppy said...

ooooh i have never tried this, or returned to the quince i have to confess....might start there first!

shaz said...

Thanks for visiting and commenting everyone, been away but back now and can't wait to visit your blogs again!