Sunday, March 4

Kisses & Kumquats

We tend to remember firsts in life. Our first kiss, our first concert, our first kumquat. I remember my first kumquat. It was on Sunday, February 26, 2006 at 9:14 AM at our farmers' market. (My first kiss was somewhat before then).

Kumquats' teeny size and bright orange rind make them impossibly cheerful. I was enamored at first sight.

"Those are so cute," I said to the farmer. "What are they?"

"Kumquats" he answered.

"What do they taste like?" I asked.

"Here, try for yourself," he said, handing me one.

Unsure how to peel it, I asked, “Do you just eat the whole thing?”

“The whole thing,” he said.

I bit into the kumquat, whose exterior is like a delicate orange rind, only sweeter. Then my teeth sunk into the flesh, and the juice squirted into my mouth. POW! a jolt of tartness hit my taste buds, and my salivary glands instantly went into overdrive. Involuntarily, my cheeks sucked-in, my lips puckered, and my eyes squinted. Just writing that sentence (and looking at that picture) made me have a visceral reaction again.

Like everything in else in life, it’s all about expectations. Kumquats are deceptive. Their diminutive size and adorable appearance makes them seem harmless, but they sucker-punch you with an intensely tart citrus flavor. It's like expecting the sweetness of a gummy bear but getting the whallop of a Sour Patch Kid (which I happened to love when I was a girl).

Cooking kumquats, however, mellows their acidity, making them a refreshingly tangy, citrusy compliment to seafood and tofu. Though many kumquat recipes are for desserts and jams, they also work well in savory dishes.

Here are a couple more kumquat recipes I've found. Rachel from Coconut and Lime has a deliciously refreshing Kiwi Kumquat Salad featuring raw kumquats while Gattina from Kitchen Unplugged has an elegant Kumquat Chiffon Cake featuring caramelized kumquats.

I am submitting this recipe to Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen who is hosting this week's Weekend Herb Blogging.

Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Kumquats
Makes 2 servings.
Print recipe only here.

1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 tsp olive oil
½ cup seeded, thinly sliced kumquats
½ fresh green jalapeno, diced
½ cup orange juice or tangerine juice
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp honey
6-8 sea scallops
2 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
1-2 tsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped

1 Tbsp pistachios

1 cup cooked basmati or jasmine rice

Combine juice, kumquats, shallot, lime juice, jalapeno, and honey in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Pat scallops dry with a paper towel before cooking to produce less splatter and to sear more effectively. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-heat high, add 2 tsp butter and 1 tsp olive oil. Once melted and bubbly, add the scallops; cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden and browned and just opaque in the center.

Arrange rice on plates; add 3-4 scallops, and top with kumquat sauce. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and pistachios.

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Rachael said...

The only thing I remember about kumqats is reading a book when I was very young about a platypus that ate kumqats. I've always been so curious to taste them, but I had no idea what to expect. Thanks for clueing us all in!!

This recipe looks delicious! I really like the last photo with the bamboo mat (?) in the background

Rachel said...

yum! i am now a kumquat devotee! i need to explore more uses for it. i love that the skin is sweet but the fruit is sour.

Era said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Era said...

(Sorry, I had to remove my post the first time because I mistakenly wrote my password at the bottom of it, whoops!)

I just found your blog and I really like it (I am also an east coast girl living in CA). My first kumquat was stolen from a tree at Longwood Gardens where I worked last year. I proceeded to raid that tree every day I was there and I would carry the kumquats around in my pocket during the work day and meter them out to myself over the course of the day. That picture of the cut-open kumquats literally made my mouth water fiercely!

Rachael said...

Susan - just made your pignoli cookies and they were absolutely delicious! I replaced the vanilla extract with almond extract, and I needed to cook them a bit longer than 20 minutes, but they came out melt-in-your mouth perfect. Thanks for the great recipe!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I don't think I've ever tasted a kumquat, but your post is so descriptive, I'll consider this the first time!

Brilynn said...

Mmm, scallops and citrus are an excellent combo!

CookingDiva - Chef Melissa said...

Yum! I LOVE Kumquats :)
Have a tasty week,

Kalyn Denny said...

Hi Susan,
I finally learned how to open the comment box in a new window so I can leave a comment here! (I wish Blogger would get that fixed.)

Just letting you know that I'm hosting today and not Anna (she actually got married yesterday, but she is the host next week.) So I'm grabbing your link from here and will include you today. You might want to edit so people can find the Recap at my blog. There are A LOT of entries this week, with a lot of very interesting things!

Never eaten kumquats, but I am very curious about them.

Anonymous said...

Kumquats. Now there is something I have never, ever cooked with or even eaten! Egad! You have my gears a turning. :)

Ari (Baking and Books)

Kirsten said...

I love kumquats, and like you, discovered them pretty recently. :)

Your recipe looks SO delicious. I love scallops too!


Susan from Food Blogga said...

Rachael-In all the comments I've ever received, you were the first one to integrate the word "platypus." It's officially one of my all-time favorite comments! :)
And, yes, it is a bamboo mat from Home Goods.

Rachel-I know, I just love the contrasting flavors!

Era-Hey, fellow East Coast girl! Thanks for visiting and for your kind words. I love your story! I can envision you--with bulging pockets--stealthily plucking the fruit off the tree.

Rachael-Oh, I'm so pleased you made the pignoli cookies! I'm sure the almond extract was delicious. It's so exciting to hear when someone makes and enjoys one of your recipes, isn't it? Thank you.

T.W.-Thanks! But don't think you get off the hook that easily.... ;)

Brilynn-Jeff thinks so too; I love mine with tofu.

Melissa-I share your YUM!

Kalyn-I hope you try them. They really are something special.

Ari-If you think I have gotten you gears a turning, wait until you taste a kumquat. ;)

Lucy said...

Oh, Susan, if only I could transport our massive cumquat tree to you. You would love it - I'm often at a loss with what to do with the harvest. This looks wonderful - I too could taste that mouth-puckeringly sourness as I read your post. Yum.

Deb said...

Thanks for stopping by & your recipe looks fabulous!!!! I'll be reading.

Deb said...

P.S..... you've inspired me to get cookin!

Anonymous said...

I've never had a kumquat, but I think I'm in love... they sound delicious!

Anonymous said...

Just found your site from del.ic.ious. Great recipes and writing. I haven't stopped salivating since reading the description of biting into one of these things.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

The scallops look divine!
Great discription of tasting a kumquat! I do enjoy kumquats and sometimes they are sweeter than others!

Anonymous said...

During Chinese New Year, kumquat symbolizes prosperity.

What a creative combo you have there :)

Scribbit said...

That was my reaction 12 years ago with a kumquat and I've never eaten one since. I did, however, notice they were in in the grocery stores right now. Maybe I'll be brave and given them another try, but I make no promises :)

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Hey Susan,
I just sub kumquats for whatever recipe I use that has lemons. Or just squeeze some kumquats fresh over seafood, or in VNese fish sauce. I think I just love kumquats b/c of the way they sound aloud on the tongue - kumquat.

M.I. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Great recipes! But aren't the kumquats too tart for the scallops? Just a thought. Keep up your great blog.

Melting Wok said...

Susan, this just reminds me of my childhood years, having kumquat trees in the garden, me and my siblings would eat until we don't want to eat anymore :( How I wish I have some now..oo. I simply adore biting into the skin, and we usually don't take the flesh as it gets wee too bitter. Do you know the chinese use kumquats to make cough syrups ? hehe..another nostaligic memory when mom used to forced us down with a couple tablespoons of that before choir practise haha, thx for sharing :)

Gattina Cheung said...

Your scallop dish is so elegant!
You sure good at remembering date... I'm very bad at it, just asked (again) my husband when his birthday...

best modern design said...

Hi, you might like to know that cumquat is the base for a lovely Itaklian soft drink (I think in America you call them cordials) called Chinotto. Chinotto is actually a variety of cumquat.

Helene said...

It´s looking so delicious. I have to try it as soon as I come across cumquats. :)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I don't remember my first kumquat (too long ago), but I do remember my first kiss (also too long ago!). Great post.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Wow, Susan! This looks wonderful!

I've never had kumquats (can't have scallops) and I'm sure I'd never have thought of using them in a savory dish!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Kirsten-Great! Hope your try this dish!

Lucy-You've got a whole tree?

Deb-Thanks for the visit! I've enjoyed yours as well.

Kristen-If you can make it through the first kiss with one, then you'll be good to go.;)

Michael-Thanks for the visit and the kind words!

Tanna-Oh, thanks so much! It was such a vivid experience, I just had to share it!

Tigerfish-Prosperity, huh? After all, I've got 87 cents coming to me from GoogleAds. ;)

Michelle-If you don't like them, then apparently you can use them for some cough syrup.(see Melting Wok's comment above).

Wandering Chopsticks-You know, I meant to add how much I enjoy simply saying the word "kumquat," and I forget. Now, you did, so thanks!

My_kiru-Thanks for coming by! I'll check it out.

JP-Actually, cooking the kumquats mellows their tartness, and the addition of the honey sweetens them. Like anything else in cooking, though, it's a matter of taste.

Shirley-I loved your comment. You never know which foods will elicit memories in readers. (Plus, now I can throw away my bottle of Robitussin).;)

Gattina-It does make a nice presentation for company.

Acoustiss-Thanks for dropping by and suggesting Chinotto. I'm not familiar with it but will certainly check it out.

Helene-I hope you do. Thanks!

Lydia-That's OK. The kiss is more important!

Patricia-I love this sauce with tofu.

Anonymous said...

I've never had a kumquat but I want one *right* now - those scallops look awesome!

Mishmash ! said...

hahah..first kiss and first kumquats..hhahah that was quite metaphorical :) Nice presentation and colourful photographs.


Anonymous said...


i like delicious~ i like cooking

welcome to my home:

christine said...

Gah! Reading your post had my salivary glands on overdrive! You described it so vividly. :) I love popping kumquats into my mouth like candy after it's been chilled. Also, at my sister's party, we put them in our martinis instead of olives. But I love how you've used it with the scallops in this recipe, it sounds like a wonderful combo,.

Lis said...

Wow that looks great, Susan! I've never had a kumquat. I do agree that they are very cute, though =)

I love the pairing of scallops with citrus - yummy!

Kajal@aapplemint said...

I share exactly the same feeling as you on these little citrus bombs...very recently discovered by me but i cant seem to get enough of them.I tried them in almost everything but just managed to save a picture i took of the salad i made
Love the scallop version and will definately try it.

Linda said...

this looks fantastic! kumquats are another food I've yet to taste! beautiful photos and presentation!

Anonymous said...

These kumquats look gorgeous, and that dish looks absolutely fab! Another use for these is to make marmelade - one of my old coworkers makes mountains of the stuff every year and makes the most delicious marmelade that we are lucky enough to score a jar or two of :)

Michelle said...

The recipe sounds wonderful but I don't know if my kumquats will ever leave their direct path from my tree to my mouth! ;)

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Shawnda-I wish I could give you one! I still have a basket full on my counter.

Shn-Thanks! Glad you liked it. :)


Christine-Seriously! Every time I think about,I get a tingling sensation in my mouth! In martinis? That's one I never thought of. Cool!

Lis-Cute, yes. But you gotta watch 'em! ;)

Kate-"Citrus Bombs" sounds like a good title!

Linda- Thank you! Hope you give 'em a try!

Ellie-Marmelade! Why didn't I think of that? I bought waay too many kumquats at the farmers' market yesterday, and you gave me the perfect idea of what to do with them. Thanks!

Fastfoodie-Thanks! Oh, I wish I had a whole tree!

Connie said...

your description of them is right on- you think its a gummy bear but it is a sour patch kid! and the dish you prepared here is beautiful, stunning and fresh in its colors and componenets

wheresmymind said...

One of these days I've gotta try those little guys!

Anonymous said...

Oooh! Speaking of bloggers being connected, I had my own first taste of kumquats not too long ago...I even posted about it (I made it into marmalade) and my conversation with the purveyor of the fruit stall sounded very much like yours (with the "yes, you eat the skin" moment!)! This is amazing! :) Now, thanks to you, I have another idea of how to use them :)

Monika Korngut said...

Great write up! I never had this fruit or did I ever see it in a store but I will look for it. I would love to try it!! Sounds great with scallops.

Take care,

Anonymous said...

Oh Susan what a great job you did with this! I love your play by play description of when you tasted the kumquat :) . It's like I was tasting it with you!

Stella said...

I never really liked Kumquats but you've convinced me now Susan!:)
Thanks for sharing this great recipe:)

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan! My first introduction into was a delicious Kumquat Marmalade on lightly toasted honey-wheat bread... ooh, so good!

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,
This is the first time on your blog and I absolutely love your style. I also love this recipe. My in laws had a kumquat tree in their yard and my husband and I used to leave with grocery bags full of them after a visit. Unfortunately they moved. I am going to make this amazing recipe ASAP. Sounds delicious!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Connie-Thanks for the compliments!

Jeff-Yes, you do!

Joey-And thanks to you (and Ellie above), I have the idea to make some marmelade.

Monica-Hope you try them!

Veronica-Thanks! It was fun to write!

Valentina-Really? :) I hope you try it!

Gilly-Oh, that sounds delicious. I would love it for breakfast tomorrow.

Ronnie-Thank you for stopping by and for the kind words. I can imagine how you must miss it. I hope you like the recipe.

Anonymous said...

This is a fabulous blog! I love your style and your photos. I'm not a big fan of scallops, though. Would you put this with other fish as well?


sher said...

Thank you for that! The photos are beautiful. I made scallops recently and wish I had used kumquats with them. Every time I see a kumquat, I think of my mom. She adored them and dreamed of having a kumquat tree. So, when she came here to live with me, I got one. They smell wonderful!

Sig said...

Susan, My first time here, wow, what a wonderful blog you have! The kumquat pictures look amazing!

It's funny, today I saw kumquats in the grocery store during my afternoon snack run, but they had a 3lb bag and i thought there is no way I am going to eat all that, but I now am going back this evening for sure :)

The way you described your first bite of the kumquat, that is what I would call food-porn ;)

BTW, Great combo with scallops too.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,
thank you for visiting my blog. I love kumquats ever since my Chinese roomate introduced it to me. Love everything about it, the smell, the taste, the fact that I could eat the whole fruit too!
Chinese people will preserve this fruit and make it a snack, very delicious.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Brandie-Why, thank you so much! Sure, I've served this sauce with tuna as well.

Sher-How sweet! Your mom must have been tickled by your gesture.

Sig-Well, that's the first time anybody ever called my writing food porn. And I like it! Thanks so much for the visit and the kind words.

Eliza-You're welcome. Glad to hear from a fellow kumquat devotee!

Pip said...

I love kumquats, I also made a liquor once with them! Your picture with rice and scallops look wonderful!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Pip-I have heard of a liquer made with kumquats. I'll have to check it out.

Anonymous said...

Just found your blog. Your photos and stories are fabulous. I love this combination, bold and beautiful, just like your site.

Anonymous said...

I'm really craving Kumquat & rabbit ear ragout, now. You're awesome. great idea.

Anonymous said...

I always thought they were "coom-quats." Gorgeous recipe. Thanks.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Anthony-Thanks for the lovely compliment.

Anonymous-Glad you like the idea!

Elizabeth-Oh, it doesn't matter how you say it, as long as you eat them!;)

Marianna said...

wow, this seriously looks delicious and amazing! I've always loved kumquats but use them more in desserts or eat them candied (quite common to find in France). Really enjoying your blog, and hopefully this weekend I'll have the time to do something for your beautiful bones event :-)

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Marianna-Thank you. I love them in sweets as well. I'm glad you're enjoying my blog, and I'd love to have an entry from you!

Kathy said...

I know that this is a little late, but I love kumquats too. I am fortunate enough to live in south louisiana where they grow plenty of them below New Orleans. (Not quite so many as before K, but they are replanting). Even better, they grow two varieties, the nagami, and the Meiwa, the really sweet one, It is still tart, but the peel tastes like candied orange peel. Delicious! I go through several pounds each winter, buying them at the farmer's market. Next winter, I will have to try some of your recipes. Thank you!