Sugar Plum Magic


This week’s find at the Montclair Farmer’s Market: sugar plums. No fairies spotted … you’ll have to wait till Christmas for them!
Ginger from Tree-Licious Orchards told us that their farm has been involved with the Montclair Farmer’s Market since its inception – that’s over 10 years. They specialize in fruit and grow it on 100+ acres in Port Murray NJ. Ginger runs the market, her mom Carol runs their bakery and her brother John grows the fruit. Quite a family affair.
Sugarplums should be eaten by themselves when they’re in season – there’s nothing quite as sweet. Nature’s candy to be sure, but they make a really interesting base for a Southeast Asian-inspired sauce to use when grilling chicken, pork or fish. The sweetness, mixed with fiery chilies, really perks up a milder flavored meat. Serve a cooling cucumber salad with this barbeque and you can’t go wrong.
Sugar Plum Barbeque Sauce
2½ cups water
½ large red onion or 1 medium – minced
3 cloves garlic – minced
1” piece of fresh ginger – grated or finely minced
1 ½ tsp. Chinese 5-spice powder**
2-3 Tbs. Canola oil
4 + Tbs. Light brown sugar
2 sticks cinnamon
1-½ cups pureed sugarplums*
1 Tbs. Asian sambal paste (chili garlic paste)**
Salt & pepper to taste
Sautee onion, garlic & ginger in oil till fragrant
Add 5-spice powder and toast lightly
Add cinnamon sticks
Add water and simmer till reduced by half
Add brown sugar, sambal and sugar plum puree and simmer till thickened and glossy
You can adjust the heat and the sweetness to your taste.
* To puree sugar plums, place in bowl of food processor and pulse a few times until the pits separate from the fruit. Turn off and remove pits. Take fruit and strain through sieve or colander.
** Available at Asian food markets such as East-West in Bloomfield and often at Whole Foods in Montclair.
Asian Inspired Cucumber Salad
(Serves 4)
4 cucumbers peeled, seeded and diced to ½ inch size pieces
1 red onion – ½ inch dice
4 scapes or 2 cloves garlic – minced
½ cup cilantro – washed and chopped roughly
1 tsp. Each of black and white sesame seeds
½ cup Thai fish sauce (Nuoc mam pha san)**
2 tsp. Honey
Sprinkling of toasted sesame oil
¼ – ½ cup canola oil
Juice from one lime
Salt & pepper to taste
Toss salad ingredients together
In a separate bowl, combine fish sauce & honey and warm till the honey melts
Add the lime juice and sesame oil and then whisk in the canola oil
Add salt & pepper to taste
Pour over salad and allow to marinate for ½ hour at room temperature
Garnish with additional sesame seeds and cilantro leaves
Cat Morris

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