Taste one of these little bright yellow jewels and you’ll immediately discover why they’ve gained a loyal following and a number of equally colorful names. They initially give a strong burst of citrus-like tang, quickly followed by a curious, tingly jolt of electricity sensation that spreads from your tongue to fill your whole mouth that ends in a numb feeling. This all repeats itself for about 15 minutes.
They have become very popular with restaurants that use the buds finely diced in fresh salads, with sliced chiles and lime as a condiment, lightly pickled or candied with desserts. Here is a unique, complex and attention-grabbing sorbet that will intrigue and delight your friends or a dinner party!
- 3 fresh mangoes, peeled, pits removed and sliced
- Finely grated zest and juice of 2 limes
- 1 cup of superfine sugar (Use regular sugar if you can't find superfine - powdered sugar has cornstarch in it)
- 1 small red chile finely chopped (Remove seeds if you are sensitive to heat, or to try for the first time)
- 9 small Szechuan buttons finely diced for the sorbet, 3 diced for the salt coating and a few extra (quartered or halved) to use as a garnish in each dish
- Flaky sea salt
- In a food processor, blitz the mangoes, lime zest and juice and superfine sugar to a smooth puree.
- Pour into a freezer safe container, stir in the chopped chile and Szechuan buttons and put into freezer.
- After 1 hour, stir the mixture with a fork to loosen and fluff. Do this every hour until fully frozen. The aim is to create an icy, fluffy slush instead of a frozen block.
- Once frozen, wet the rim of a Martini glass or small dessert dish with lime then dip the rim into a mixture of sea salt and diced Szechuan buttons. Scoop a small portion into the glass or dish.
- Serve immediately with a garnish of halved or quartered Szchuan buttons and a ring or two of sliced chile.
- The chile should add intrigue and a dimension of flavor, not stand on it's own heat. Start conservatively, then add as flavor is needed.
- The overall flavor should be one of sweet, then fruity, then slightly sour, then the chile flavor (not heat) and "buzz" of the Szechuan buttons should arrive together, raising eyebrows!