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).
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?