AndyTalk: Pomelo, the Good Fortune Fruit

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Nothing says "Happy New Year" like a pomelo; Chinese New Year, that is. As a practical matter, you can use a pomelo (also spelled pumello) as a substitute for grapefruit. The grapefruit we eat on a day-to-day basis is actually a hybrid of a pomelo and an orange. Once you've peeled away the incredibly thick and bitter skin, a segment of pomelo is hard to distinguish from a segment of grapefruit. The biggest difference is that a pomelo in your house at the start of Chinese New Year is said to bring good fortune.

Although it's not unusual for the fruit to be a bit dry, as compared to a grapefruit, the couple of pomelos I got at Trader Joe's (for $1.49 each) were really juicy. I used some of the juice to make the dressing for my salad. I also used raw pecan halves for sweetness and protein, pomegranate seeds, pea shoots, roasted beets, sliced apples, chopped arugula, and a little slivered onion. All the ingredients were picked up at the last minute when I got the pomelos. A splash of olive oil and some salt and pepper and I was done. My Pomelo Salad had sweet, sour, salty, and just a hint of bitter all in one bowl.

Pomelos are deceptive. They're huge, but since the pith can be an inch thick, the fruit inside is the only the size of a standard grapefruit. Part of the pomelo's charm is its size, so I'm inclined to add them at the last minute, so that the people eating my salad are part of the process. Adding a pomelo to a salad at the last minute, while everyone watches you pare away the skin and pith, adds a bit of performance art to the meal, which is never a bad thing.

For breakfast, I like to mix the pomelo with berries. I always taste one of the berries and a bit of the pomelo so that I can adjust the flavors as necessary. Much like grapefruit, some pomelos are sweeter than others. I like to add a teaspoon of honey or agave nectar to the salad, but if the berries aren't super sweet I'll add an extra teaspoon. I always add a pinch of salt to bring out the flavors in the fruit, and to add depth to the salad. There's something particularly satisfying about starting the day with a bowl of something that's been coaxed to taste its best. A Slow Food breakfast satisfies hunger and at the same time it brings calm to my morning.

If you've never tried pomelo, it's a good way to bring flavor and fortune to your table any time of the day.

Andy Broder is the chef/owner of AndyFood, A Culinary Studio.

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