KOLOA — Eric Young said there are only a few trees bearing Buddha’s Hand on Kaua‘i, and fewer in other places.
The fruit from this rare tree resembles a citrus gone amuck as it rested among the Meyer lemon offerings and complementing the equally unusual Dragon Fruit offerings he had at the Koloa Sunshine Market.
“It’s the Buddha’s Hand,” Young said. “It’s hard to get, has no pulp, but if you smell it, it’s got a real strong armona.”
In China, the Buddha’s Hand citron symbolizes happiness and long life because its name, fo-shou, has those meanings when written with other characters, states the University of California Riverside website after researching a plant imported from Hawai‘i in 1975.
Though esteemed chiefly for its exquisite form and aroma, the Buddha’s Hand fruit is also eaten in desserts and savory dishes, and the sliced, dried peel of immature fruits is prescribed as a tonic in traditional medicine.
In Japan, the Buddha’s Hand is known as bushukan and is a popular gift at New Year’s as it is believed to bestow good fortune on a household.
Some varieties of Buddha’s Hand citron have a sour pulp, some none at all, states the Flavor and Fortune website dedicated to the art and science of Chinese cuisine.
However, cooks interested in exotica value the fruit for its aromatic peel. Gary Palm of The Mission Inn in Riverside, Calif., chops up pieces of rind to add a slightly bitter citrus tinge to fish marinades, and Lindsey Shere, pastry chef of Chez Panisse in Berkely, Calif., uses the candied peel in Italian desserts such as pane forte. Allan Susser of Chef Allen’s in Adventura, Fla., bakes pieces of candied rind in biscotti, adding flavor he describes as “kumquat-tangerine” which is distinct from the more lemony flavor of regular citrus.
Todd Porter and Diane Cu on the WhiteOnRiceCouple website (http://whiteonricecouple.com/recipes/buddhas-hand-dressing/) offers a Buddha’s Hand Dressing which can be sprinkled over a green salad.
The Produce Oasis website states when any dish calls for lemon zest, look first for Buddha’s Hand.