For the longest time, kumquats were nothing to me but a funny word. Turns out, they’re about as bonkers as their name! Kumquats are a citrus fruit, but they’re itty bitty, bite-sized things. And unlike most citrus fruit, the peel is sweet and the flesh is tart. You eat them unpeeled, rind and all, and BAM! They hit you with their one-two punch of fantastic flavor. They’re like a natural version of the super-sour, super-sugary candies I once ate too much of as a kid… those kept me shaking for hours, while kumquats, fortunately, bring me nothing but joy.
As a snack, kumquats are perfect as they are. When using them for cooking, though, it can be a bit more tricky. Okay, wait, not too tricky; I wouldn’t set all this up just to let you down. Each little kumquat has a couple of seeds in there, and when you’re slicing them for this recipe you’re going to have to remove them, but the payoff is too great for you to be deterred by some seeds, right? (psst! The correct answer is: YES!) Okay, now that we got that out of the way, let’s get to the rest of the dish!
Aside from that there’s a nice, spicy rub for the chicken and a quick lemongrass syrup to add that extra layer of fantastic flavor. The result is a beautiful, exotic dish that’s lovely over a warm bed of coconut rice.
—adapted from Epicurious—
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 teaspoons turmeric
- 10 bone-in chicken thighs with skin
- 1½ cups sliced lemongrass
- ½ cup fresh lime juice
- ¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped kaffir lime leaves (or substitute 1 tablespoons finely grated lime peel)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2-3 large shallots, chopped
- ½ cup minced fresh ginger
- 1½ cups seeded, thinly sliced kumquats
- 1 red Thai chile, thinly sliced
- Salt and pepper, to taste.
- Fresh cilantro, chopped
- Combine sugar, cayenne, and turmeric in a small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of each chicken thigh with salt and coat with spice mixture.
- Arrange the chicken on a large rack placed on a baking sheet, skin side down. Let the chicken marinate for at least two hours (if longer than two hours, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate).
- Stir together lemongrass, lime juice, rice vinegar, sugar, and kaffir lime leaves in a medium saucepan. Heat on high and bring to a boil while stirring the mixture continuously.
- Once the sugar has dissolved, allow the syrup to cool, then strain into a small bowl.
- Add vegetable oil to a large saucepan and heat over medium heat. Add shallots and ginger and sauté until fragrant and lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add sliced kumquats and strained lemongrass syrup, stir, and simmer for 1 minute.
- Remove from heat, mix in red chile, and allow to cool. Season with salt and pepper.
- Preheat a gas grill on high, and then bring down to a medium heat. Cook chicken over direct heat until well-browned on both sides, about 15 minutes, flipping every 2-3 minutes.
- Reduce grill heat to low, and cook, covered with lid, until cooked through (internal temperature should be 160°F (71°C))
- Arrange chicken thighs on plates, and spoon the lemongrass-kumquat sauce over the top. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve.