Cooking with Figs
The fig, also known as the common fig, or ficus carica, is one of the most popular fruits across the world, especially during the summertime. It’s juicy, fragrant sweetness made it a favorite even in the ancient times of Ulysses and even Cleopatra. Mentions of the fig go as far back as the Biblical depiction of Adam and Eve.
The origin of the common fig is believed to have been in western Asia, but they are now found throughout temperate climates in many regions.
Shaped like a bell, the common fig has a wrinkly appearance with a leathery skin. Figs are categorized into various classifications, usually on the basis of their color. The more popular types of the common fig include:
- Black Genoa figs: Dark purple colored skin with white pulp underneath. Contain red and white seeds
- Adriatic figs: Dried Adriatic figs have a very pronounced flavor
- Brown Turkey figs: Purple – brown skin, sweet pulp and found in medium to large sizes
- Mission figs: Purple – black skin, reddish pulp underneath. Have a strong, full flavor and a chewy texture. These figs taste best when they’re fresh.
- Calimyrna figs: Green skin, white pulp with a honey/nutty flavor. Large in size
- Kadota figs: Thick yellowish green skin, pinkish – white pulp. Have a sweet taste.
Considered one of the most nutritious foods, figs contain a lot of fiber and calcium, along with Vitamin K, Potassium, magnesium, manganese and copper. A veritable treasure trove of mineral nutrition, figs also contain flavonoids, polyphenols and antioxidants while help bowel movements owing to their laxative nature.
In order to buy the highest quality figs available, one must ensure that the figs are dry, clean and have a rather thin and unblemished skin. The color of a fig’s skin ranges from pale green all the way to a deep purple. This however has a minimal impact on its flavor. Figs should be soft when pressed gently, but must also retain their shape. Overripe figs can soften excessively, making transport of the same rather prohibitive.
Figs must be refrigerated in order to increase their shelf life. They must be removed from the refrigerator a few hours prior to serving. Figs that have not yet ripened should be left at room temperature and should soften in a day or two.
Figs can be used in a variety of gastronomic applications like snacks, salads, wraps, desserts and much more. Their use is restricted by the imagination of the chef only and bring great taste and nutrition to any food item they are an ingredient in.
The catering team at The Boulevard Room have devised a variety of ways to incorporate figs into their menus. They utilize them to create Middle Eastern foods and kosher Sephardic cooking. Figs stuffed with feta cheese is a Greek food delicacy. Figs stuffed with almonds is a Persian tradition. The chefs make a wicked miso glaze for fish by adding some fig fragments to the sauce preparation. Many people want a dry fruit platter as part of their sweet table, adding figs provides a nice touch.