Sumptuous Pomelo

At last weekend’s open day, Rosa, a gardening neighbour, gave me two pomelo fruit. So I had two opportunities: to grow my own tree and to make refreshing pomelo salad.

Rosa had grown her trees from home saved seed. Even though Brisbane is becoming more multicultural, there are insufficient Asian grocery stores to meet demand. It’s rare for mainstream garden centres to sell this tree, but fortunately Daleys Fruit Tree Nursery in the Northern Rivers offers a range of named cultivars.

Rosa saved seed from fruit bought at an Asian grocery store in Inala, (south western Brisbane) just over ten years ago. Pomelo (sometimes spelled pumello, Citrus grandis), also known as the shaddock, originates from South and South East Asia. Pomelo fruit are the largest of all citrus fruit, the flesh is usually sweet but neglected trees can produce a variably flavoured crop. They always have a very thick rind which is perfect for making marmalade.

Trees crop heavily when treated well and look very pretty in full crop. Although this is a tropical tree, I’ve seen pomelo thriving in frost-free gardens from Sydney northwards along our subtropical and tropical coast. Pomelo is one of the parents of the grapefruit (a hybrid fruit tree, the other parent being the orange) and the tangelo (another hybrid fruit, the other parent being the tangerine).

Pomelo trees grow readily from seed, especially if well nourished and prevented from becoming root bound. Like most seed grown citrus, plants take five (sometimes more) years to fruit. I got enough seed from Rosa’s two pomelo to start a commercial orchard. As with all citrus, the seed must not dry out before sowing as this harms the embyo. I’m sowing them today in a seed tray using fresh sowing mix.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I used the flesh to make Thai-style pomelo salad, a sweet and sour dish:

Ingredients:
1 full sized pomelo
1 red onion (or equivalent in shallot, multiplier onions or spring onions)
6 cloves locally grown garlic (or equivalent in garlic chives or society garlic)
400g cooked, peeled prawn (or shrimp, chicken, pork, tempeh or tofu)
Chilli (to taste)
Half a tin coconut milk
1 cup coarsely chopped roast peanut
Half a cup of desiccated coconut (ideally toasted coconut flakes)
Juice from 1 lime (if needed)
Fish sauce (to taste)
Olive oil
Handful of fresh coriander, coarsely chopped (Thai coriander, Eryngium foetidum, is also authentic but currently out of season)
Optional – serve on a bed of lettuce.

First remove the pomelo flesh, cutting out segments individually using a sharp knife. Store seed in a sealed container for sowing later. Cut pomelo flesh into bite sized pieces. Place pomelo fruit and juice in a large bowl and fold in the prawns.

Chop garlic, chilli and onion and fry gently until softened. Stir in coconut milk, fish sauce, peanut and desiccated coconut. Add to bowl, stir. This is a moist dish, so add extra lime juice if it looks too dry or to add extra flavour. Serve immediately. Serves four main courses or eight entrees.

You can see Rosa’s Vietnamese garden on Gardening Australia on 6th October 2012.

Jerry Coleby-Williams

19th August 2012