Go local – Kalamansi

Remember back in Malaysia Week I posted a recipe for Ais Limau (Lime Cordial), saying I had to use the wrong limes?

(sorry wordpress isn’t letting me link at the moment, must be something buggy. It’s here https://roundtheworldvegan.wordpress.com/2010/10/03/devil-curry-and-ais-limau/)

Not anymore! Now we have an abundance of kalamansi lime at our disposal. Awesome.

Kalamansi limes are tiny, green or orange skinned fruit with a light orange centre, that taste limey, but not as tart as the ones we’re used to at home.

They look like this:

Green (and one orange) kalamansi and a small lemon to show size

What can you make with them? Everything!

I have been making Ais Limau, using them to flavour spicy soup (such as assam laksa) squeezing them into sambals and over stir fries, and generally enjoying them in every way I can before we go home and never see one again.

A jug of brown sugar Ais Limau

The best use of kalamansi so far though, would have to be my recent Kalamansi Pie attempt. However, as the pie took several false starts, I don’t have a recipe so much as a story of how not to make pie.

The Making of Pie

I started with the idea that I would make pie exactly as I have many times before: Soak agar in water/juice/sugar, then cook, then set in pie base, then eat.

I set about squeezing all the tiny kalamansi at about 2pm. They are very seedy on the inside, so I squeezed them through our very crap collander.

Dead limes in our crap collander (don't let the photo fool you, its very crap)

Then I added water and sugar, and sprinkled in some agar agar to soak. I left it alone for a good 15 minutes before bringing it to the boil, and cooking for another 10 minutes, allowed it to cool just a little, and poured some of it into the pie shell.

It smelled good, it looked good, but in the words of Miss Clavell, something was not right.

It wouldn’t set. Not in the freezer, not on the bench, not in the fridge. And my pouring seemed to have melted quite a lot of the shortcrust pie shell. Oh no!

So, I poured it back out (shortcrust crumbs included) added more agar, and set about soaking and boiling again.

While this was going on, i notice my pie shell was looking very much worse for wear, so I popped it into the oven to dry off.

I went back to the lime mixture, which still wasn’t thickening, and decided to add more sugar and just keep boiling. In my frustration I forgot about the pie base until I noticed I could smell something caramellish- when I pulled it out the edges were dark brown and the base (where it got wet) was beige. Damn.

Back to the lime mixture, after soaking and boiling for a third, unsuccessful time I had decided to give up and ask the internet – surely soeone would know what I had done wrong?

As usual, the internet knows all. It is thought you need to use more agar when working with citrus – that could be the problem, but as I had already used enough agar flakes to set a small rhino (no, it doesn’t make sense as an analogy, just go with it), that probably wasn’t the problem.

Then I spotted it: apparently some fruits, such as pineapple, mango, kiwifruit and papaya, have an enzyme that breaks the bonds of agar, so no matter how much you put it, it just wont set. Kalamansi weren’t mentioned, but I made the mental leap that it was from the same part of the world as papaya, mango, pineapple, and, well, fuck it, my agar wasn’t setting, and I had to blame it on something.

So, now what? Would I ever save my pie? I turned again to google, and found this recipe at the Gluttonous Vegan (http://www.thegluttonousvegan.com/2009/09/killer-key-lime-pie.html), which uses a corn flour slurry. Of course! I had forgotten about corn flour in my rush to use my special imported agar flakes.

So I slurried the lime, and it thickened nicely, and I poured into my slightly burnt pie case and stuck it in the fridge at around 5pm. That’s right, three hours of pie making later. There was now much too much lime mixture (with the added slurry-bulk) for me to cover it in a layer of coconut cream pudding as I had planned, so I left it to have on the side (as with the rest of the dish, it hadn’t really worked and was lumpy, anyway).

After dinner I pulled it out, wondering if it would be at all edible. To my great surprise it was much better than I could have imagined! The texture was perfect, the extra bulk had quietened down the sour lime so that it was tangy but not over-powering, the crust tasted like heaven with its chewy, caramelised bits, and the coconut lumps weren’t noticeable at all.


*sigh of relief* I will be making this again, but next time I’m going straight to the power of corn flour.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Cindy says:

    Oh, I’m so glad that it eventually worked out!

    I think I had exactly the same agar/citrus problem a couple of years ago… might go for cornflour as you did in future.

    I love sweet’n’sour desserts – hope I get my own chance to try those kalamansi limes one day…

    1. Keira says:

      Glad to hear I’m not the only vego who didn’t know! I’ve heard (but not seen) that kalamansi limes are sometimes available at the preston market. I never saw them, though.

  2. naomi rose says:

    so glad i was able to help! I LOVE key lime pie ❤

    1. Keira says:

      I’m glad too. I love lime pie now, but its not something we really do in Oz.

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