Caviar the Australian way
Finger limes (famously known as citrus caviar) are one of the few native Australian fruits taking centre stage in main stream food markets, not only in Australia but overseas too. The finger lime is known for their tangy, sour pearls that resemble fish roe, or possibly something that may have been conjured in Heston Blumenthal’s kitchen, the pulp is being used by chefs and home cooks in a wide array of dishes. They are perfectly suited for salads, delicate seafood dishes, your favourite desserts or even cocktails so it is easy to see why this native member of the citrus family is growing in popularity.
Finger limes originated from the east coast rainforests around the New South Wales Queensland border. Historically they were used by the region’s aboriginal tribes for food and medicinal purposes due to their high levels of vitamins and antioxidants. They were so often used in the aboriginal diet that a well-known landmark of this region, Mount Tamborine, is not named after a musical instrument like most people believe, it is an Anglicised version of the aboriginal word Jambreen which means wild lime as it was a traditional harvesting ground for these native fruits.
In modern day, finger limes are grown commercially in this region of Australia and thanks to some of the world’s most influential chefs including Rene Redzepi of Noma, farmers have seen the demand for their product grow steadily and in recent years almost doubling. If you want to get your hands on this completely unique and native ingredient you will have to head to your local farmers market, specialty food store or online distributors, (I go straight to the source www.limecaviar.net).
Finger lime season runs from January to July and peak season from February to April.
My kingfish recipe is a quick and simple dish that is great for entertaining where the tangy citrus burst of the finger lime pearls will not only impress your guests but will add a textural element to your dish while cutting through the richness of the Kingfish.
Soak the seaweed in a cup of cold water for ten minutes until it is rehydrated and plumped up. Drain the seaweed, discarding the water, and place on paper towel and store on paper towel in the fridge until ready to serve.
In a small mixing bowl combine the finger lime, ginger, olive oil along with a pinch of salt and gently mix until combined, set aside for plating to allow the flavours to combine.
Thinly slice the spring onion on a bias and store in the fridge until ready to plate.
Using a sharp slicing knife cut the kingfish into 3mm thick slices, cutting across the fillet. Once you have cut all of the fillet lay the pieces out on a serving plate, drizzle the dressing over the top being sure to use all of the finger lime pulp. Garnish the plate with the seaweed.
Finger lime pulp can be removed by cutting the fruit in half crossways and squeezing the pulp out.
Hiramasa kingfish is a sustainable fish I like to use in raw dishes however, if you cannot get it ask your fishmonger for their recommendation on a local sashimi grade fish.
Red Irish moss seaweed can be found in specialty food stores, finely sliced nori is a good substitute if you cannot find it.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with finger lime, add it to your next drink, my favourite is a gin and tonic.