An acquired taste

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 April, 2009, 12:00am

An acquired taste Some types of guava have an astringent, pervasive scent more evocative of what comes out of a body than anything commonly consumed by one; in Malaysia, guava is often called gai si guo (chicken-poo fruit) while others liken the smell to cat's pee.

The fruit ranges in length from 3cm to more than 10cm and it can be round or oval; have hard seeds or soft; be rough or smooth; with skin ranging from light yellow to pale or dark green to pink; and have a similarly varied flesh colour. Some guavas have no scent at all. What they do have in common is flesh that is slightly grainy, like certain varieties of pear, although the guava is less juicy. They're said to have high amounts of antioxidants, vitamins and dietary fibre.

In Thailand, guavas are sold by vendors who give away small packets of mixed sugar, salt and chilli powder to sprinkle over the fruit with a bit of fresh lime juice.

Guavas make a delicious paste, similar to the quince variety often paired with manchego cheese. Chop the fruit, weigh it and add an equal weight of granulated sugar. Put it in a heavy saucepan with some water and cook, stirring frequently, until the fruit is soft. Put the mixture through a food mill then continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the puree is thick (lower the heat as it thickens because it burns easily). Stir in fresh lemon juice, pack the mixture in ramekins then refrigerate. Serve the paste in slices with cheese.

For a delicious marinade for barbecued meats (it's especially good with duck and lamb), puree skinned guava with chopped shallots, garlic, chillies, fresh lime juice and enough water or chicken stock to thin the mixture to a coating consistency. Season whatever meat you're using with salt and pepper (if using duck breasts, score the skin in a diamond pattern, taking care not to cut into the flesh). Rub the mixture into the meat and marinate for an hour (or longer, if using larger pieces) then grill over hot coals. Susan Jung

Picture: Dickson Lee



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An acquired taste

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