My friend Michael, a home cook from Scotland who now lives in Los Angeles, has never tried passion fruit with oysters before. As part of my top 10 food pairings series, I asked him to give it a go and let us know what he thought.
First, I’ll share how I discovered the flavor pairing.
A fusion of chefs
The very first time I tried fruit and oysters together was at a chefs festival in Melbourne, Australia. I was invited to the festival to show the Francophone chefs around and help with translation. Sang-Hoon Degeimbre, a Korean-born Belgian chef, hosted a cocktail night during the festival. The first canapé at the party was a natural oyster with a kiwi fruit gel dome, served on a piece of crusty flat bread. Whouaou!
I was a bit shocked by how good the combination of oysters and kiwi was, but I soon realized that they share a similar aroma and were a perfect match. I then did some research on what else I could pair with oysters, and found passion fruit. I tested it myself first before I announced my great discovery, and ended up keeping it simple: a teaspoon of passion fruit on a raw oyster.
We all know that oysters are considered an aphrodisiac, which goes along well with this fruit’s name.
Passion fruit originated in South America, and is packed with antioxidants. Australians are big fans of the tropical fruit, and it’s easy for me to find in the markets.
Now let’s see what Michael has to say about the combination.
Younes: Have you tried passion fruit or oysters before?
Michael: My mum back in Scotland introduced me to passion fruit in my late teens. She would serve it to me and my siblings on top of crème brûlée and cheesecake.
Growing up, money was tight. For my family, it was between buying one passion fruit or 10 apples. Mum tells me that today she can buy four pieces of the fruit for £1 and that most supermarkets have them in stock. She recalls the passion fruits she recently bought being from Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina.
As for oysters, I tried oysters on a guys’ vacation in Las Vegas last year. A group of 10 friends were in town from Scotland and we dined one evening at Nove Italiano Restaurant at the Palms Casino. I had a few drinks that night, so I was more willing to put my fear of oysters aside. They never looked appealing to me and I don’t eat raw seafood.
To my surprise, they were unbelievable. I had 12 that night.
Y: What did you initially think about combining passion fruit with oysters?
M: I thought the passion fruit would be overpowering. The fruit is very sweet, and oysters have a delicate flavor. I didn’t think it would go well. I enjoy them on a dairy-based dessert or pastry.
Y: Where did you buy your passion fruit and how much do you know about the fruit?
M: It was hard to find passion fruits, but I eventually found them at a supermarket near my home. The store stocked only a small basket worth and the fruit sold for $2.99 each. I did some research and discovered that passion fruit is grown commercially in tropical and subtropical areas throughout the world. The fruit I bought was grown in Florida.
The first time I ever saw a passion fruit plant was at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Gardens this summer. The arboretum showcases many fruits from different parts of the world. The plant was growing on a trellis, and the passion fruit flowers were in bloom and very pretty. Their colors actually matched the fruit.
Y: Ok, verdict time. What was your impression of combining oysters and passion fruit?
M: I enjoy both flavors, so the combination worked for me. I would suggest, depending on your palate, that you play with the amount of passion fruit you put on top of the oyster. Less passion fruit means more of the oyster taste coming through, and vice versa. Also, the textures of the passion fruit and oysters equally match one another – soft and delicate – which I found pleasing.
Make sure you “shoot” the oyster and passion fruit all at once in your mouth so you experience both ingredients at one time. Don’t swish, let the combination sit gently, and then chew.
How to make the passion fruit and oyster pairing
- 4 Oysters
- 2 Passion fruits
- Open the oysters. If necessary, add in some salted water.
- Halve the passion fruit and remove the flesh with a spoon.
- Lay a teaspoon of passion fruit on the oyster.
- Serve immediately.
You can read more about my favorite flavor pairings here. Let us know if you’ve tried the passion fruit and oyster combination by leaving a comment!