>> Saturday, 17 May 2014
The first time I discovered calamansi limes was purely by accident. It was about 25 years ago back home in Guyana. I went to the market and among the things I bought that day were limes. I was pleasantly surprised later in the day when I cut into the limes to find the insides a deep, orange colour and very juicy. It was sweet and tart at the same time and the fragrant aroma was like a combination of tangerine, orange and lime. Back then I used it to make drink and with seafood but never ventured to do anything else with the calamansi.
I couldn't remember the vendor from whom I had purchased the calamansi limes but every time I went to the market I kept hoping that I'd be able to find them again. I never did. The only other times I would get calamansi is when I'd buy at farmers' markets overseas.
A little over a month ago, on one of my regular trips to the market here in Barbados, and one of my farmer friends gave me a few limes he said that his neighbour gave him. I came home and cut open the limes and was overjoyed when I saw the bright, fruity orange colour. This time I knew I was going to put the calamansi to use in savoury preparations.
First, I baked chicken that I had marinated overnight with calamansi juice, soy sauce, garlic and minced hot pepper (I'll share those pics with you soon) and then on another occasion I made these Calamansi-Soy Sauce Roast Potatoes. The flavour was wonderfully savoury and more than anything else, the colour of the potatoes from the calamansi juice made the roast potatoes extremely attractive. Wouldn't you agree?
There is nothing exacting about what I did, therefore it is not like a "formal" recipe. Here's what to do.
- Start by squeezing the juice from a few of the calamansi limes and strain it to remove the pulp, however, rub the pulp against the sieve to extract the extra juice.
- Pour the juice into a large cup a small bowl. Add regular soy sauce and taste the sauce as you go along. It is a really something that you make to suit your taste. The flavour should be savoury and citrus-y. Whisk the two ingredients together along with a little pepper sauce. Set aside to meld.
- Scrub some potatoes. I prefer a russet/Idaho potato for this dish. A floury potatoes works best. When you're done scrubbing the potatoes, steam them for 12 - 15 minutes or until you can insert a knife with some resistance. Think of it as the potatoes being just about half-cooked. You can also cook the potatoes by peeling and parboiling them.
- While the potatoes are steaming, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- When the potatoes are done steaming, using a thick cloth kitchen towel to shield your hand, quickly peel the potatoes. Slice them into quarters or large chunks and add them to a large bowl. Pour enough of the calamansi-soy sauce over the potatoes to coat them well and toss gently to mix and coat. You want to do this when the potatoes are hot so that they can start to absorb the marinade.
- Drizzle a cast iron skillet with oil to coat the entire surface. Transfer the potatoes and any residual marinade from the bowl (do not add extra) to the pan and spread the potatoes out in an even layer. Drizzle the top of the potatoes with oil and put the pan in the oven.
- Roast the potatoes for 25 minutes then remove the pan, flip the potatoes over and roast for another 25 minutes or until the outside of the potatoes are crusty.
- Serve as a side dish.
Calamansi limes play an influential role in Filipino cuisine. Read about other uses and benefits of the limes here.
The first blog that I learnt about real Filipino home cooking, was my friend Marvin's Burnt Lumpia. That man can do some things with pork - from nose to tail! Two other outstanding Filipino food blogs from which I continue to learn and thoroughly enjoy are CASA Veneracion and Jun-Blog. Check them out!