My family is a traditional Cantonese family; the mode of celebration when it comes to special occasions like birthdays is indefinitely a multi-course meal at a Cantonese restaurant. Like an excited reader who is too impatient to plough through the pages of a book, my eyes would inadvertently jump to the end of the menu to see what is in store for dessert. If it is chilled cream of Mango Sago Pomelo or glutinous rice balls, I would eagerly look forward to this sweet ending.
Pomelo is the largest citrus fruit, alluding to its species name, Citrus maxima. The gargantuas tropical fruit is in season from August to October and from January to March. They have been arriving in heaps at the supermarket recently which piqued my curiosity to learn more about this fruit.
At the supermarket, I observed different shapes of pomelo. Indeed, the shape depends on the cultivar, which generally falls into three groups – Chinese, Indonesian or Thai. Confusingly, these group names do not reflect the country of origin as all pomelos are generally imported from Malaysia. The Chinese variety (Shatian or J8) is pyramidal with a thick rind and lots of juice. It is mainly grown in the southern states of Johor, Negeri Sembilan and Melaka. The Indonesian variety is large and round. The most popular is the Tambun White and Tambun Pink that hail from Tambun, Ipoh, also known as the Pomelo centre of Malaysia. The Thai variety is the smallest and sweetest, and comes from the northern state of Kedah. This round I selected Ipoh Tambuns, but I’d be sure to note any difference in future pomelo tastings!
Pomelo can be enjoyed on its own, just as how one enjoys grapefruit. It also features in salads such as the Chinese Yu Sheng, and the Thai Yum Som-O. However because Australian mangoes are also in season, I decided to make the best of both fruits with a variation of Mango Sago Pomelo using chia seeds instead of sago pearls.
Normally Mango Pomelo dessert is made with evaporated milk or cream, but I used coconut milk to keep it dairy-free while keeping it silky smooth and luxurious. In addition, most recipes call for simple syrup to enhance sweetness but personally I prefer it with a sour edge that is contributed by lime juice. The crowning highlight of this refreshing dish is indubitably the sudden spurts of sweet-sour juices from pomelo arils, Even if pomelo is inaccessible to you, I highly recommend you try this dessert with grapefruit sacs, although it will probably be more acidic.
- 240 g (1 large) ripe mango, roughly diced
- 180 g (3/4 cup) coconut milk* (see Notes)
- 38 g (2 1/2 tbsp) lime juice
- 180 g (1 1/2 cups) pomelo sacs,
- 160 g (1 cup) mango, small dice
- 15 g (1 1/2 tbsp) chia seeds
- Diced mangoes
- Pomelo sacs
- In a blender, combine 240 g of mango, coconut milk and lime juice. Blend until smooth.
- Pour out the mixture into a large bowl. Stir in pomelo sacs, diced mangoes and chia seeds.
- Place the mixture into the refrigerator for 2 hours or longer to allow the chia seeds to absorb water and thicken.
- To serve, ladle the pudding into bowls and garnish with extra mango and pomelo. This dessert is best served within 24 hours from preparation.
- To make homemade coconut milk, blend one part coconut flakes or young coconut meat to two parts filtered water. It will be less thick than packet or canned coconut milk.
- Select pomelos that are heavy and aromatic, with blemish-free skin ranging from green to yellow. Unripe pomelos have green skin which turn yellow as they ripen (although Thai varieties can remain green when ripe). Allow green fruit to ripen at room temperature but not for too long or they can turn bitter.