THE GOCHISO GOURMET: More than just a stylin’ color


MIX IT UP ­— Add some lime juice, cucumber, simple syrup, Green Chatreuse, Svedka cucumber lime vodka (right) and club soda to make the Gochiso Gourmet’s No Longer Envious drink. photo by Ryan Tatsumoto

columnist-logo_ryantatsumoto_FINALFor more than a decade, I’ve gravitated toward anything that’s lime green. I have lime green shirts, pants, socks, belts and shoes. I also have lime green pens, wallets, Hydro Flasks, coolers and cooking utensils. However, there’s one lime in my kitchen that’s not lime green at all, but simply green. And while most of those green orbs we purchase from the supermarket are simply called limes or Persian limes, most are actually hybrids or cross breeds with other citrus fruits.

Because limes hybridize easily, most limes are hybrids produced from either citron (Citrus medica), mandarins (Citrus reticulata), the pomelo (Citrus maxima) or the micrantha (Citrus hystrix,) which is a true lime variety.

The Basic Supermarket Lime
The limes that are sold in your average supermarket are also known as the Persian lime or Citrus latifolia. However, these Persian limes are actually a cross between a Key lime and a lemon. And the Key lime, which produces those lip smacking Key lime pies, are a cross between a micrantha lime and citron. And those kaffir lime leaves that are used for Thai curries is a cousin of the micrantha lime, but the fruit is considered inedible, so usually only the leaves are sold. Meanwhile, the Philippine lime or calamansi routinely found in the 50th, is a cross between a kumquat and a mandarin orange. And if you watch those commercials for Tanqueray gin, they offer a Rangpur gin based off of the Rangpur lime, which is a cross between a mandarin orange and a citron. It doesn’t even resemble a lime as it’s vivid orange like a tangerine.

Not Just Any Citrus
Though lime’s supermarket cousin, the lemon, is usually found alongside limes, they are leagues apart in culinary applications. For instance, the lemon simply provides that pop of acidity to brighten other flavors and balance richer taste sensations like fat. Thus, vinaigrettes are great on most salads, as you have the acid as vinegar or citrus juice mixed with your favorite oil. But while lemon juice gives you bright acidity, it doesn’t really add much lemon flavor. When I truly want that hit of lemon flavor, I usually grate the zest off of the lemon peel for that intense flavor. Meanwhile, lime juice also provides that acidic hit on the palate, and it also provides that unmistakable flavor of limes, even more so than the zest provides. Think about it, that cocktail of the ‘80s, the Cosmopolitan, would simply be a sweet and sour libation with lemon juice, but the lime juice is what makes it so much more than sweet and sour. Or try muddling a lemon wedge with mint and sugar. Even the best rum in the world won’t make it taste anywhere near a Mojito. There’s also a reason why taquerias add a lime wedge alongside soft tacos instead of lemon wedges. And I’ll take a slice of Key lime pie over any lemon meringue pie any day!

No Longer Envious

MIX IT UP ­— Add some lime juice, cucumber, simple syrup, Green Chatreuse, Svedka cucumber lime vodka (right) and club soda to make the Gochiso Gourmet’s No Longer Envious drink. photo by Ryan Tatsumoto

About two years ago, while describing culinary applications with the cucumber, I highlighted a story after receiving my first colonoscopy. During the lunch that followed that procedure, I sampled a tasty cocktail, the Envious Green Martini, which contained Hendrick’s gin, fresh cucumbers, green Chartreuse and lime juice, which I still haven’t been able to replicate. Well, I have created my own rendition, which I named No Longer Envious. Like the original Mariposa libation, it has the flavor of lime and cucumber and bitterness from Green Chartreuse but is garnished with both a slice of fresh lime and cucumber instead of just a curl of cucumber peel. And it is also mighty tasty!

4 peeled, thick slices of cucumber
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup (equal parts of sugar dissolved into water)
1/2 ounce Green Chartreuse
1 1/2 ounce Svedka cucumber lime vodka
1/2 ounce club soda

Muddle (smash) the cucumber slices in the lime juice in a tall glass. Add the simple syrup, Green Chartreuse and vodka and ice, then swirl until chilled and strain into a cocktail glass over fresh ice. Top with the club soda and garnish with a slice of cucumber and lime.

Limes are a great accent for many side dishes and desserts.

Mezcal Slaw with Lime and Cilantro
The following vegetable side has the unmistakable flavor of lime that mere lemon juice or vinegar can’t replace:

1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use Kewpie or Japanese-style)
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon mescal (or silver tequila)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup thinly sliced on the diagonal, green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 head each of head and purple cabbage, finely sliced (coleslaw style)
1 peeled carrot, shredded on the large setting of a mandolin or box grater

Combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss.

A Twist on the Usual Key Lime Pie
Though a slice of classic Key Lime pie is as tasty as chilled desserts go, this adds another dish that may become a classic in your dessert repertoire. A panna cotta translates as “cooked cream” and has a pudding-like consistency, though this version uses mostly low-fat milk products to make it almost guilt free.

Key Lime Panna Cotta
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup low-fat sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons grated Key lime rind
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 cup 2 percent reduced-fat milk, divided
1  1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons Key lime juice, divided (about four)

Combine the first three ingredients and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat; cover and let stand for 30 minutes.

Place 1/4 cup 2 percent milk in a medium bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over milk; let stand 10 minutes.

Return pan to medium-high heat; bring to a simmer. Add the hot milk mixture to the gelatin mixture, stirring until the gelatin dissolves. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of 2 percent milk. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a medium bowl; discard solids. Stir in one tablespoon Key lime juice. Divide the mixture evenly among four (four ounce) ramekins or custard cups lightly coated with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The Gochiso Gourmet is a column on food, wine and healthy eating. Ryan Tatsumoto is a graduate of both the University of Hawai‘i and UC San Francisco. He is a clinical pharmacist during the day and a budding chef/recipe developer/wine taster at night. He writes from Kane‘ohe, HI and can be reached at Views expressed in the preceding column are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

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