||Tropical fruit is to the 1990s what chili peppers were to the 80s. Restaurants throughout the United States are adding excitement to their menus with these exotic and flavorful treasures. A prime example of this is Shrimp Banana Guava Salsa with Coconut Rice.
In the Sunshine State, we have the advantage of being able to get a variety of locally grown tropical fruits "Fresh from Florida."
Florida produces more than 24 varieties of tropical fruits, from the well-known mango and papaya, to the wax jambu and black sapote. Many of these fruits are available almost year-round.
Every tropical fruit variety is incredibly succulent, intensely flavorful and temptingly sweet. Not only are these fruits delicious, but their colors and shapes also contribute to stunning presentations. This helps make Florida's spirited regional cuisine highly distinctive, always fresh, and colorful. Chefs especially enjoy working with the carambola's yellowish, star-shaped slices; mamey's silky, reddish-orange flesh; lychee's deep-ruby skin and pearly-white fruit; and mango's golden-hued flesh.
Mango and papaya are among the most versatile of tropical fruits. While both routinely are used in desserts, salsas, fruit salads, sauces and chutney, it is not uncommon to see them used in a variety of entrees, such as Gingered Tropical Fruit Paella or Stewed Clams and Mangos. The familiar plantains are now available in the delicious Hua Mua variety, which produces fruit that is larger in circumference and sweeter than other varieties, adding another dimension to traditional uses. These fruits have intense flavors, so they lend themselves to preparations using less fat.
With more than 24 varieties of tropical fruits produced in Florida, it is difficult to give proper merit to all of them here, but possibly the list below will be a modest introduction. For more information on recipes, availability, packers/producers, etc., visit our web site at florida-agriculture.com/tropical, or contact us at (850) 488-4303.
Once you've become an expert at working with these exotic wonders of nature, you will find comfort in their easy charms, and so will your customers.