If you ever want to know the backstory on a fruit, David Karp is your man. Last year, he wrote about the arrival of the dekopon, a Japanese variety of mandarin, just entering the market in California and I was all over my local stores in Washington trying to see if they’d carry them. No such luck.
So when Karp heralded the arrival of this year’s dekopons, marketed as “Sumo Citrus,” in last week’s LA Times food section and it coincided with a trip down south to visit a friend, I knew we had to find a Whole Foods in her neighborhood.
Sumo Citrus at Whole Foods– $2.99/lb.
Just for comparison, on the left is the dekopon and on the right, a regular minneola tangelo. They both have the nub on top, but the dekopon’s is more pronounced. The fruit is larger, easier to peel and much lower in acid. In taste, it’s just like a canned mandarin orange (which I know doesn’t sound good, but it is) with better texture and a little zing. I always thought it was the syrup in the can that gave those mandarins their taste, but it turns out it really is the variety. I ate some of one out of hand today, but I think the others may be headed for a salad.
Is it my new favorite citrus? I like a little more acid. Satsumas are my favorite mandarin and Murcott and Fairchild tangerines, when they’re good, nothing can beat them. It’s just as well, I don’t know if dekopons are to be had anywhere outside of California. The list of stores carrying them includes both supermarkets and Asian specialty stores, but looks to be California only. So if you know anyone going back to Cali now through March or so…you might ask them to pick you up a few dekopons.
Other good fruit reads by David Karp:
Market Watch: Pixie mandarins from Ojai are a farmers market favorite
Market Watch: A world of extraordinary flavors in specialty and exotic strawberries