Salad and Sumo Tangerine

Are you eating well this weekend? Staying away from junk food? My eating has been pretty good, and I wanted to share a couple of the things that have ended up on my plate.

I made a kick-ass salad the other day. I used my new salad spinning bags to prep some red leaf lettuce, and I added some sauteed vegetables: yellow cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and baby bell peppers. I love sauteing (or roasting) cherry tomatoes – they pop in your mouth with you eat them… absolutely delicious. The salad was huge and filling.

A couple of ingredients I forgot to mention above: I added, to the sauteed veggies, a serving of lemon pepper tempeh. Tempeh is a vegetarian meat alternative made from fermented soy. It’s my least favorite meat alternative (I prefer seitan and tofurky), but I had never seen the lemon pepper variety before, and thought I’d give it a shot.

After I combined the tempeh and veggies with the lettuce, I added a tablespoon of fake (soy) bacon bits, and then a few tablespoons of a new feta and red pepper dressing (fat-free, 15 calories a serving) that I tried for the first time.

The salad was delicious, mostly. I wasn’t nuts about the lemon pepper tempeh, even though I usually like lemon pepper anything. And the lemon pepper didn’t go well with the dressing. But I really liked the combo of warm veggies and cool lettuce, and even a few minor flavor problems didn’t prevent me from eating the whole thing. And it was big.

Yesterday morning, I dug into the new type of produce I picked up the other day. A sumo tangerine!

It’s the biggest tangerine I’ve ever seen (the size of a small grapefruit), although there’s nothing in that photo that suggests scale (my bad). I was digging around online, looking for information about the sumo tangerine, and I came across an Los Angeles Times article written about them last year. The article was fascinating – turns out the sumo tangerine has had a short but very colorful past!

The sumo tangerine, also called a dekopon, is a hybrid fruit created in a Japanese government lab in the early ’70s. It grew to become the most prized citrus in that country, selling for $10 apiece. Import laws prevented them from being brought over to the US, but branches of the sumo tangerine tree were smuggled into California, and the LA Times writer spent over a decade trying to track down sumo tangerines in the US. His journey included learning about an illegal orchard near Fresno that was burned to the ground, a visit to a “farming cult” in Ventura County, and contacting lots of farmers, some of whom wouldn’t take his calls for three years, and others who had signed confidentiality agreements preventing them from talking about the rare fruit. The article is a great read, and if you have a few minutes, you should click here and check it out. You don’t think of fruit growing as an industry with tons of criminal activity, but the history of the sumo tangerine proves you wrong!

The sumo tangerine is well worth all the trouble. It’s large and peels easily, and it’s delicious. The segments pull apart easily, and it’s a great mix of sweet and a little tart. I took some pictures during its consumption:

It sounds like the U.S. sumo tangerine harvest is still pretty small, and I don’t know if you’ll be about to find them if you don’t live in California, but luckily for me, that’s not a problem! I’m definitely picking up a few more if I see them again.

Keep it up, David!

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3 Responses to Salad and Sumo Tangerine

  1. Dacia says:

    The WF in San Antonio had Sumo tangerines for about a month. This is the first week I didn’t see any when I went in. They are now my favorite citrus fruit. So good. Glad I ate them almost every day – hopefully I can hold off another year until they are back in season :(

  2. modernest says:

    sumo’s are one of my fave seasonal treats…i totally stock up when they’re at WFM!

  3. Al Pong says:

    I didn’t know what a Sumo tangerine was until my granddaughter told me to read HowChow’s blog and she also bought a box of the fruit. I do like it. To my surprise, I found that I have 2 (Shiranui) trees with fruits on them. I am going to start a grafting class shortly and Shiranui or Dekopon will be part of the course. Why don’t you grow your own instead of talking about it. Al

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