I don’t usually eat kumquats, but they look so cute that I’m occasionally tempted into buying some at the market (this happens quite frequently, and with quite a variety of different foods). Kumquats are known as “Chinese oranges” (תפוז סיני) in Hebrew, and I have to say I find this much more logical than the English name, as it actually tells you something about what it denotes. For instance, based on the English name, you would never know that kumquats are small, tangy citrus fruit, with a mild, zesty peel and a small amount of tart flesh inside. They happen to be in season right now, along with a huge variety of other citrus fruits, including the “Chinese lemon” (what on earth could that be called in English?) and my favorite, blood oranges.
By the way, the best place to get citrus right now is one of the stands in the Gaza market section of the Carmel market (parallel to the main strip). One of the guys there has a huge selection of different kinds of grapefruits, oranges, clementines, lemons and pomelos. He once labeled pomelit as “bamlat” (במלט — I kid you not — when spelled properly, it’s פומלית), which is really funny if you know some Arabic and Hebrew and appreciate linguistic humor. Anyway.
In any case, I’ve had the kumquats sitting in my fridge for a while now. I guess I bought bad kumquats, because many of them went bad in the time it took me to figure out what I wanted to do with them. In any case, I knew I wanted to throw the survivors into some kind of sweet food, since kumquats would go well anywhere you would think to use citrus zest — it’s merely a milder flavor than orange or lemon. Our pancake brunch presented itself as an excellent opportunity.
You can eat these pancakes with syrup if you want, but I thought the taste was great on its own — the pancakes came out pleasantly sweet and tangy, and were very light and fluffy. They’re best straight off the flame, since the butter used to fry them makes them slightly crisp around the edges.
For 4 large pancakes:
6 kumquats, plus a few more for garnishes
2 T sugar
1 1/2 T butter for the batter, plus another 1 1/2 T for frying the pancakes
1 T baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/8 t nutmeg
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/4 c milk
Finely slice the kumquats, removing any seeds (there shouldn’t be too many, but still). Mix them with the sugar, so that the flavors begin to combine.
Meanwhile, melt the 1 1/2 T butter, and mix it with the sugared kumquats. Add the salt, nutmeg, baking powder and the egg, and beat together. Mix in the flour and the milk, alternating quarter- or half-cups or so, in order to avoid clumps.
Heat a frying pan on a medium-high flame, melt one teaspoon of butter into the pan, and just barely fill the pan with batter. Once bubbles begin to appear on the top side of the pancake, carefully flip it (I use two spatulas — a small one to gently lift the edges of the pancake, plus a large one, nearly the size of my pan, in order to properly support the pancake as I flip it). Let it cook for another minute once flipped, remove it from the pan, and then repeat with the rest of the batter.