I'm posting from Hong Kong this week (Tony will still be doing the Flea this coming Saturday with West Indies inspired flavours). I grew up eating a variety of fruit that I often still don't know the English names for, and often miss the tropical fruits. In addition, Hong Kong has plentiful juice stands and delicious fruit based drinks that help the population of 7 million beat the long summer heat.
First up: Guava and black pepper! Tony was amazed to discover last winter when he visited that the guavas in S.E. Asia taste radically different from what he grew up eating. They're smaller and have a more delicate, less earthy taste. I bought some local guavas that are even smaller than the Thai guavas, and smelled absolutely amazing.
They were put through the juicer, cold steeped with black pepper then carbonated, resulting in a light refreshing drink with a nice, very slight pepper-tingle at the end.
Next up: starfruit and rose apple. Starfruit come into season early autumn, so I was a tad early but they were starting to show up at the markets. Beautiful and crisp tasting.
Best way to eat them is to slice off the outer rind on the 'points' of the star, then slice the fruit into cross sections.
The flavor is so light and crisp that I didn't want to distract from it too much with a spice or herb, so started thinking about other fruits that it would go well with.
One of Tony's favourite discoveries this past January in Hong Kong was the rose apple.
Rose apples have a superb crunch and texture to them, but very little tartness. I thought I'd pair the two - even though they're both quite light in taste their flavour profiles are different enough to make a complex juice.
Unfortunately most of these fruits are quite expensive in the US, so I doubt I'll be able to scale them up when I'm back in New York, but on a small scale, they were a fun experiment.
One that I think we can replicate on a larger scale is salty lemon and ginger. Salty lemonade pops again regularly on the menus of cha-chaan-tengs, Hong Kong diners, and its made using preserved salty lemons put into 7-Up or Sprite. I thought I'd do a Brooklyn Soda Works version using salty lemons I picked up from a small market stall in one of the outdoor markets, hand made by a friendly woman who's name and location of the stall I've forgotten...
The lemons aren't overly salty - roughly a quarter of a lemon per serving, so I used 4 quarter wedges for a liter, boiling it in water for ten minutes, then added in the raw ginger juice.
The result: tart, refreshing and not too salty.
That's it from me in Hong Kong. And if you're in Brooklyn this Labor Day weekend, go check out Tony's lovingly created Caribbean inspired drinks on Saturday!