This is a long-overdue post, drafted in winter about a winter fruit called the Buddha’s Hand citron. I was reminded of this draft while catching up with the GastroPod podcast, which recently had a brilliant episode on citrus where they talk about this tentacled fruit, among other miracles of the citrus variety. I love that podcast!
Buddha’s Hand citron is this wonderful fruit you see in some markets, especially Asian ones, in winter. It’s a wildly tentacled citrus fruit, extraordinarily aromatic. It sort of looks like HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu. It is made up entirely of rind and pith, with no fruit or juice. In contrast to other citrus, its pith is not very bitter, so you don’t have to be careful to remove all the white parts when zesting it. In fact, I have found it okay to use pith in addition to the rind when getting some zest for a recipe.
Buddha’s Hand can be used to make candies and cocktails, and you can use the zest in place of lemon or other citrus fruit. Its scent is strongly floral.
I used it not only as a model for etegami, but also as a flavoring for a limoncello-type of liqueur. I just swapped out the lemon for Buddha Hand. See my recipe below, based off of this recipe.
- 1 large Buddha Hand citron — washed carefully
- 1 liter (1000 ml) Everclear alcohol (if you have to, use 100-proof or higher vodka, but Everclear is really what you should use as it is a truly neutral alcohol)
- 1.5 liters water
- 5 cups granulated sugar
- Large glass container
- Smaller glass bottles for bottling smaller batches (as you see fit).
Wash the citron carefully, with a brush and some hot water to remove any residue, pat dry. Peel off the rinds with a vegetable peeler — unlike with lemons, you don’t have to be careful about the white pith, it’s okay to leave pith on the rinds. (Note: it’s possible you could just chunk up the citron whole, and soak the rinds, but I didn’t do that as I wanted the liqueur to be as yellow as the summer sun.)
Place the rinds in a large glass container with the Everclear alcohol. Cover the container and let it sit for 1 to 2 weeks.
After the liquid has sat, strain the the peels from alcohol; discard peels.
In a large saucepan, make a simple syrup by combining the water and sugar and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Cool the syrup to room temperature. Then add it to the alcohol.
Cheers! You’re done! Drink now, or chill it for summertime.
Makes about 2 1/2 liters.