wax apple

wax appleThe Asian network of grandmothers, old friends, and neighbors’ fruitful backyards is strong. A ripe tree bearing many fruit can becomes gifts to old friends, neighbors, and/or relatives who will likely parse it out to their own friends, neighbors, and/or relatives; a great way to diversify your harvest and taste some of the freshest and sweetest organic produce!

A friend of my grandma’s visited her a few days ago and brought her six wax apples. They came from the backyard of another friend, who grew a tree from a seed brought over from Taiwan. My grandma had never encountered this exotic treat before. Neither had I, and lucky for me she gave me a few to enjoy when I went over yesterday.

The wax apple has many fun and descriptive names (some of which include: jambu apple, love apple, water apple, and bellfruit). It’s related to the guava, funky family members that bear resemblance through their bellybutton-ish undersides, remnants of where the tree’s flower once was. It surely doesn’t share the texture of a guava – while a guava is gooey and can have many, many seeds, the wax apples I tried were quite firm and had no seeds (or just one, tiny tiny seed in one instance).

The wax apple’s high water content give it a crisp and refreshing bite. Sweet and juicy, its texture is a bit like a cross between watermelon and an apple. No need to peel it either – a good thing since it seems pretty delicate.

I read online that they doesn’t keep all too well, staying freshest for only about 3 or 4 days (and not in the fridge, where it breaks down much more quickly). My grandma put one in the fridge and the fruit started to split in a few tiny areas but on the very very bright upside the juices were cooler and all the more refreshing when we cut it to share.

Word on the web is that there are places in LA to get these, including the Pasadena farmer’s market. If there’s a time to check it out, it would be while it’s in season now!

 

guidelines for chimichurri

Aren’t all recipes like guidelines anyways? Why should you add ingredients you don’t like into something you will eat, or restrict your additions of things you like? You shouldn’t!

This is a quick set of guidelines for a sauce so versatile, you’ll make more just to see what else you can use it on. This may not be the most traditional version out there, but it certainly will become yours. You’ll need:

  • Garlic
  • Large bunch of parsley
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Oregano
  • Salt, & Pepper

How to make Chimichurri:

  1. Get condiment container. I like to use a glass jar that used to hold peanut butter. It’ll be useful to store the chimichurri on the table so you can put it on everything you eat
  2. Add pressed/minced garlic to this container
  3. Chop parsley finely and add to the jar
  4. Pour olive oil in so it covers the mixture
  5. Crush dried oregano to release all the goodness and flavor and add to the jar
  6. Add a few big dashes of balsamic vinegar
  7. Add salt and pepper
  8. Mix well. Taste. Adjust as necessary.

How much of each? You tell me. These are guidelines! Remember? I’ll walk you through my thought process, but it’s fun to use your own nose and tastebuds to make this recipe unique to you. The lovely thing about chimichurri is that it keeps and gets better with age as the flavors have time to mix and develop. If you don’t plan on using it up within 2-3 days, store it in the fridge to help keep it from going bad.

  • Garlic. I am a firm believer that you can never have too much garlic. If you really, really, really need a number because you don’t want to scare your upcoming date by saying “hello,” I’d say use about 6 big cloves. Or more, depending on your affinity for this delicious bulb. Fresh pressed garlic gets integrated into the sauce really well and may be ideal, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use minced garlic if you have that handy and feel lazy (as I often do). Garlic presses are a pain to clean, they have so many little holes that the garlic bits can settle into. And my garlic press seems play hide and seek with me. My kitchen is so small I don’t know how it wins! Anyhow I’ve made this with both these types of garlic and have loved them all. You can always add more later. You do keep spare garlic right? (I keep it in the freezer to keep it from sprouting, this helps me make sure I never run out)
  • LARGE bunch of parsley. Because once you taste this you’ll want a lot of this, trust me. I like flat leaf parsley, but any will do. No need to throw out the stems, just cut off the very very ends and use the rest. If you have a food processor chopping this takes about 10 seconds. Doing it by hand can make it fun because you get to enjoy the herbal aroma a bit more and you get to be close up and personal with your food while you make it.
  • Olive Oil. Lots of this. You need at LEAST enough to cover all the contents of the jar and then some. A high quality olive oil adds lots of delicious flavor, and using enough will keep it from growing rancid (if any of the parsley is piled up higher than the oil, it may start to grow some mold).
  • Oregano. This is a key ingredient. Crush it to release the flavors right before adding it. Otherwise you might be adding orego for a while with minimal flavor impact. You’ll smell it’s essence being released right away as you crush it. I rub my forefingers and thumb together, crushing the oregano as I sprinkle it in. I imagine you could use a mortar/pestle if you have one (I don’t). If I’m feeling impatient I’ll crush a bunch in my palm with my other thumb (trying to get it to a powder) and pour it in the jar. I’d say at least 1.5 tablespoons. Start with that, you can always add more if needed.
  • Balsamic Vinegar. Another key ingredient. Ok, so it’s often red wine vinegar, but since I only store Balsamic in my cupboards this is what I use. It’s for a sweet acidity to perk up the sauce so you feel a kick. I recommend a few big dashes, but go easy on it to start and see how it changes the flavor of your sauce.
  • Salt (& Pepper). This is a very personal amount. My mom can’t handle any pepper in anything whatsoever. Seriously, freshly ground pepper is a bit too spicy for her. I love pepper! I don’t know that this sauce particularly needs it. But salt is a definite must. It enhances the flavor and what may taste kinda bland at first can suddenly be complete with a dash more salt! Just remember you can’t take it away once you’ve added it in.

One of these days I’ll try measuring out the ingredients I use. But I really do enjoy tasting and adjusting each time I make this. Also, since when are bunches of parsley all the same size?

 What to do with Chimichurri sauce

This Argentinian sauce is often used to compliment a great steak and/or sausages (in choripan). These are the obvious and delicious options, but the world is your canvas – get creative! You can use this sauce to:

  • Season classic chicken breasts: Add as a bold sauce after they’ve already cooked or as a marinade to infuse flavor. Or both!
  • Make pita chips: Simply cut pita into wedges (or whatever shape you like) and  brush on a generous layer of chimichurri. Bake for ~7 min at 400°
  • Top your eggs: Works on all kinds of eggs – scrambled, omelette-style, frittata, over-easy, sunny-side up…
  • Dip bread: Serve chimichurri with warm crusty bread for an easy appetizer
  • Make a sandwich fancy: Spread on the bread and add your favorite sandwich ingredients. Try adding your favorite cheese(s) and grill!
  • Top pasta: A ready-to-go pasta sauce – think of it like pesto, only with a pesto kick. Works with spaghetti squash too! (depending on how thick your sauce is, you may want to add olive oil to help coat your pasta easily)
  • Spice up a salad: Chimichurri’s got oil, vinegar, plus a whole lot more flavor

Possibilities don’t end here – how do you like to use chimichurri sauce?