Saturday, February 13, 2010

What we think, we become ~Buddha

As a teacher I am constantly trying to draw parallels to what I am talking about in class so that I can hopefully provide relevance to what the students are doing in their other core classes. When people ask me what I teach, I tell them Family and Consumer Sciences and quickly follow with " You know, Home Ec". I believe we all try to to defend and support our roles no matter what they are in life. As a life skills and culinary teacher, I believes there are many connections to what I teach and how it will matter in real life.

This semester I have intent to introduce a unique and or bizarre food for my catering students to learn about. This idea actually dawned on me when I was shopping in Whole foods and saw "Buddha Hand" on sale in the produce section. I have no idea what it was but assumed it was a some sort or citrus fruit based on the fast that it was placed near the lemons and its thick course flesh resembled that of an orange or lemon. Contrary to lemons however, this freakish fruit had finger like projections that made it look like a deformed claw. I impulsively purchased it deciding that I would figure out later how I would use it in class.

After a decent amount of research on the Internet, I found that the Buddha Hand is used as a gift in offerings during times of prayer in some Buddhist practices. Because the fruit also known as fingered citron looks like a hand with fingers closed it is symbolic for prayer In China and Japan the fruit is used as a fragrance for rooms and clothing because of it's powerful zest. It seems because this fruit is mainly just a hunk of zest, it can really only be used where is lemon zest or other citrus zest is used in recipes. More details can be found here.

I decided to candy my Buddha hand so I made a simple syrup. There are a few other recipes out there but I guess I pretty much made my own up. The candies can be eaten alone, put in desserts, or sprinkled over your favorite salad. My class consensus when mixed but I never take to heart the palate of 14-18 year old.

Candied Buddha's Hand

2 cups chopped Buddha's Hand
2 cups water
2 cups Cane Sugar
1 Cup Cane Sugar for tossing

Dice the Buddha Hand Fruit into even sized pieces. You may choose to cube the pieces or make long strips. Depending on the size of fruit you make get anywhere to 2 cups to 3 cups. My fruit yielded 2 cups so I kept the ratio of sugar and water the same. First cover the cut fruit with water and bring to a boil and then let simmer for about 1-15 minutes. Then stain fruit. Bring 2 cups of sugar and water to a boil and simmer until sugar is completely dissolved. Then add the fruit and bring back to a simmer. Allow the mixture to simmer until the liquid is almost completely absorbed. This may take 1 to 1.5 hours. It's important to stir the mix especially towards the end where the bottom of the pan could burn when the syrup get thick.

Once the fruit mixture is very thick and the liquid is almost completely absorbed pour it into a large bowl or dish that contains the remaining cup of sugar. Using a whisk mix the sugar and candied fruit until it is completely coated. Then pour it into a strainer to shake out the remaining sugar.

Store in a covered container for up to 2 weeks. Enjoy!

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