Monday, December 26, 2011

Adventures with Breadfruit

Our recent and much-needed vacation in Kaua'i gave us a chance to explore a whole new set of whole foods. The hands-down winner for weirdness (from our limited mainland perspective) was breadfruit—that round, green thing behind the papayas in the picture to the right—which we found first on a labeled tree in the Limahuli Botanical Gardens, and then growing by the side of the road as we hiked down to a beach on the north shore, and then in the weekly Kilauea farmer's market on a Thursday afternoon. The third time, we grabbed it.

Then we took it back to our little rental cottage, set it on the table gleefully, and wondered what on earth to do with it.

According to the internets, which we fortunately had, you can roast it over a fire for an hour. We didn't have a fire, but we had a Weber, and so we stuck it on the grill for an hour (medium heat, lid closed, in case you're thinking of doing this yourself) until it was charred on all sides and the stem end softened enough to yield a bit to firm pressure. Whereupon we removed it from the grill and photographed it. Obviously. Because that is what you do when you've cooked a breadfruit for the very first time.

Then we tried a variety of things.

Thing #1: We followed more internet advice and halved the breadfruit, peeled off the outer shell, scooped out the inner seeds, and sliced it. Only we, um, kind of dropped it somewhere between the grill and the cutting board inside, because it turns out holding it by just the stem isn't the fool-proof idea it seems when you first pick it up, so it didn't so much slice as break apart into pieces. Then we served it, hot, with butter, salt, and pepper. It was totally different from anything we'd ever eaten, and okay. Not mind-blowing, but worth it just to try.

Thing #2: We fried leftover breadfruit pieces in butter (they're kind of reminiscent of potato or sweet potato, only not), and served them with a papaya. This was better, although still a bit dry. Probably if you used a ton of butter, it would work well (don't try using olive oil...the taste is too strong for the mild breadfruit flavor).

Thing #3, and the winner, was to cook it with bok choy or tatsoi in a little coconut milk. Recipe coming soon to a blog near you.

Till then, I will be here, home again, complaining about the sudden change from summer to winter and the claustrophobic nature of socks.

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