It was one memorable experience at the supermarket that we had while shopping for groceries on the weekend before Chinese New Year. We saw something that resembled a freak experiment out of a horror movie.
‘Eeeewwww… What’s that?!!‘ We asked each other. The signage calmly flashed out the words:
Buddha Hand — 1 for $3.25
What IS a Buddha hand?
This yellowish lemon-like peel looked hideous at first glance. For all you know, it might suddenly grab at you with its claw-like fingers. But apparently, it IS a fruit – one that comes from China and the northern parts of India. That probably explains how its name was derived, given that both are places from which Buddhism originated and where the religion prevailed.
The Buddha hand fruit belongs to the citrus family and is similar to lemons in terms of its taste, smell and uses. On the other hand, it has a very thick peel which, when sliced apart, reveals no juice and no seeds; only a blanket of white flesh.
Another difference between the Buddha hand and the other fruits in the citrus family is that one can bite into the zest and rind of the Buddha hand without cringing from its bitterness. In fact, it is neither bitter nor sour, yet emits a much stronger citrus lemony fragrance. Which is why this fruit is popularly used as a flavouring in syrups, desserts, dressings and drinks. In fact, the whole fruit, including its peel, can be sliced up for use in cooking. The white coloured flesh would magically transform into a jelly-like translucent substance when boiled or cooked, which makes it very soft to the bite.
Other than that, it is also commonly used by believers of Buddhism as offerings in temples or by house caregivers as a natural air-freshener at home.
There are many online recipes available that make use of the Buddha hand fruit’s strong flavour to enhance the taste of the dishes. This includes citrus-flavoured vodka, candied Buddha hand preserves, fresh salad with Buddha hand zest, Buddha hand infused sugar syrup etc. What better way to learn more about this fruit than to use it in my own recipes? So, here is what I did with mine – the ‘Buddha Hand Sugar Syrup And A Sweet Ever After‘.