This time, they walk the sweet route in a beautiful dessert.
I took inspiration from basil-poached nectarines which were delicious a few years ago – this is no exception. The essence? Fruit poached in a spiced, herby sugar syrup.
I’ve been fascinated by pawpaw – the wholesomeness of it. I mean, like pineapple, every part of the fruit is useful. The skin and flesh contain certain elements which make them beautiful tenderisers – watch your tough Nigerian steak turn to mush (I haven’t tried it, though I know a close friend who has). The seeds are nice too – spicy, like black peppercorns but not. I got a gift of toasted seeds which have an intriguing flavour.
This ‘recipe’/ dish is simple.
Select nice pawpaw. I like to get fruit that’s firm but ripe. Unripe, and the fruit doesn’t have the ‘bite’ I quite like. Too ripe, too soft and it turns to mush. Which isn’t bad if that’s what you want.
So yes, the key? Begin with nice fruit.
Then I make the syrup. It’s a no-recipe process. Water, 5 – 10 scent leaves, crushed green cardamom pods and 2 small knobs of fresh ginger, bashed. Did I mention sugar?
While the syrup comes to the boil, I cut up the fruit. First peel, then halve.
Then remove seeds from the core.
After which you dice it.
I ended up with 2 scant cups of chopped pawpaw to over 2 cups of syrup.
Taste the syrup and adjust for the flavours you like.
Then the pawpaw chunks go in and simmer for 2 – 3 minutes, after which they are fine. Fine to come off the heat and cool + soak in the syrup.
You’ll notice a certain translucence in the fruit – signs of yum.
And really that’s it. I wait for it to cool down and then ladle it into a jar, or bowl or whatever.
I have it on its own, in cold-brewed tea, with yogurt and creme fraiche, with oats and soaked cereal and lots more.
The fruit ends up amazing – nice texture, beautiful fragrance and great bite. Somewhat chewy – ever so slightly. The remaining syrup once it’s done, ends up in bellies – combined with water, cordial-like, And more. My smoothie had some in it this morning.
Definitely, one of my favourite things.
Try it, let me know.