Fruit Stand Bites
By Evan George and Alex Brown
We've wanted for months to figure out a compact small plate or appetizer that brings together the classic curbside combos of jícama, mango, pineapple, watermelon, cucumber, chile, lime and salt into one single bite.
Whereas Eastside L.A. fruit stands leave you stabbing a plastic spork at huge chunks of tropical flesh in a spicy balloon bag, we were looking for a clean and simple Everlasting Gobstopper version. Configuring it for a wedding treat, we decided to keep it bite-sized. Slicing all the fruit elements in common shapes and quadruple-deckering them together in layers worked perfectly for making sure all the flavors hit at once. All we needed was a syrup to tie it together: mango chile.
1 serrano chile
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup white sugar
zest of one lime
1) Slice chile into thin circles. Toast in a small saucepan on medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. Make your simple syrup by adding water to the chile, stirring, then adding sugar. Stir and let cook for about 3-5 minutes, until sugar dissolves. Remove chile and set aside.2) Slice your mango: cut it lengthwise, along both long sides of the pit, leaving two half-pieces of fruit. Gently slice a grid pattern in the mango's flesh, holding the skin side in your palm. Don't press too hard; it'll hurt. Now press the skin side in, inverting the fruit, which will cause squares of mango to protrude from the convex half.3) Slice the cubes off the peel and into the simple syrup. Then emulsify with an immersion blender. Add lime zest and stir. Let pureed syrup sit off the heat while you cut your fruit.
2 cucumbers (wide ones) 1 pineapple
1 large jícama
1/4 cup cilantro
1) Peel skin from your cucumber and remove the spiky outside from your pineapple—slice both into thin, 2-centimenter pieces. Slice your watermelon and jícama likewise.2) With a set of shape cutters, play with your food. We liked triangles of even sizes as well as triangles with multiple uneven sizes, stacked vertically.3) Secure with toothpicks and top with chopped cilantro, a pinch-ette of salt and a half-teaspoon of the mango-chile syrup.
Soundtrack: Donovan's "Mellow Yellow"
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