Monday, August 12, 2013

Assamboi and Calamansi Lime

My parents are visiting and my mom brought me a whole bag of homegrown calamansi limes! It's very telling of my age when 2kg worth of calamansi limes now make my day, week even! I was over the moon! 

The first thing that popped into my mind was kat chai shun mui (calamansi lime and sour plum, or assamboi). I am as obsessed with sour plum as I am with the lime, so it's time to give in to the obsession. 

You won't believe how elusive those sour plums are! I went to six, SIX Chinese medical halls before I found them. I know on the packet it says salted cured prunes, but some people call them sour plums. The ones you get in supermarkets for eating as snacks don't always do the trick. Some have been sweetened or processed too much. The ones from the Chinese medicine shops are medicinal to a degree, they are used to go with bitter herbal teas and medicines. Here's what mine look like. They're sour as hell; test the sourness by how fast your face scrunches up the minute you take a bite. I bet you're scrunching up your face now as you imagine that childhood taste sensation. Good, the more sour, the better.
Here are the things you need. 
Calamansi limes, or limau kasturi, I used 2kg.
Brown sugar, about 200g
Rock sugar, I used less than a 400g pack. You can buy these from the Chinese medical halls too.
The sourest sour plums/prunes you can find. It's one sour plum to one lime, so buy enough to stuff all your limes.
Put all your limes in a baking try and bake it at low heat (about 90 degrees centigrade) for 20 minutes. The two pictures below show how they look when they come out of the oven, slightly cooked, a little more yellow than when fresh.
Now it's time to stuff them babies! Use a knife to cut a 1cm slit in each lime. Squeeze out the juice and set aside. Stuff a sour plum unto each lime, like the picture below.
Prepare some jars for pickling. Put in one layer of stuffed limes. Sprinkle a teaspoon of brown sugar over them. Then add a few pieces of rock sugar. Repeat until the jar is full.
Remove the seeds from the squeezed lime juice. Add the lime juice to the jar until three quarters of the way. The limes will continue to excrete liquid as they pickle. Line the top with a layer of plastic and screw the top tight. Leave for about a week and your pickles are done.
Now, how do you eat them? I would just take them out of the jars and eat as snacks! But we shan't be too extreme. Take a couple out, add hot water, and drink like tea. It'll taste salty, sour and sweet, exactly like heaven. Old people say it's good for sore throats, but what do I know, I'm not old! Really! But listen to them. Old people know stuff. You can add ice for a cold beverage, and you'll have a restaurant worthy drink. I think the restaurants make it with cordials to stimulate the taste of heaven - salty, sour, sweet.

You're welcome.

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