Calamansi is one of those fruits that was just there, always there – on the table, in the fridge, in the backyard, in the markets, in restaurants. I used it in my dipping sauces, especially the ones with patis (i.e. fish sauce) or toyo (i.e. soy sauce). I used it to marinade meats – pork, chicken, beef, fish. I used it in tea – both hot and iced. I made a juice of it, sweetened by local honey. I squeezed the juice over a plateful of pancit (i.e. noodles). I couldn’t live without it….at least in the Philippines. But when I left the country, I had to learn how to live without it.
In Dubai, a handful of wizened calamansi, which would only be available in select groceries in particular neighborhoods like Karama, Satwa and Deira, would cost me, at that time, AED 10 (around US$3), which is 200x the original cost compared to what I used to pay back home for the same quantity AND doesn’t even include my time and train fare spent travelling to those areas. Spending that money on rock hard calamansi that would yield a few droplets of its precious juice was not worth my hard earned money. Call me a miser, but it really just isn’t worth the trouble. Hence, I resorted to other more affordable citrus fruits, like lemons, to replace it.
Even if I’ve managed without the calamansi, it doesn’t mean that I don’t miss its sweet and bright citrus fragrance and taste that brings me back to my corner of our humid, tropical home country. There is simply no other fruit that can replace its glory.
At least here in the US, I don’t need to worry about the unjust fruit to juice yield ratio. Calamansi does not come in as a fruit in the Asian supermarket fresh produce section (Note that not all Asian supermarkets have calamansi. We’ve supermarket hopped and found it in 1 out of the 4 Asian supermarket chains we’ve visited.), but rather frozen inside single serve packets (Find it beside other Filipino frozen goodies like tocino, bbq on a stick and siopao). This bag cost us US$ 3 too, but it contains 6 ounces worth of juice; not just a few measely drops from poor quality fruit.
Oh, since it is still expensive, I don’t use it as liberally as I used to. This Manila Gold is reserved for ultra special meals that require a few drops use at a time.
If you live north of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, you may find your calamansi stash here:
Asia World Market (now Jusgo Supermarket)
240 Legacy Dr #200
Plano, TX 75023
+1 (972) 517-8858
Open Sunday to Thursday 9AM to 9PM
Friday to Saturday 9AM to 10PM