Sumo Citrus Hits The States

Wrestling with the Sumo citrus

Ingredients with flash-in-the-pan seasons can create monsters out of us.

For proof, look to the ramp, that wild allium of the country's eastern mountainous regions, which sparks a frenzy of food lovers clawing to get their taste during its short harvest window.

And now California is offering up its own seasonal kryptonite: the Sumo citrus. A hybrid of the diminutive Japanese mandarin and the California navel orange, it is a riot of sweet-sour flavor.

The bright orange fruit is the product of 30 years of cultivation in Japan, where it's known as Dekopon citrus. It made its way to American soil last year, when a series of farmers in California's Central Valley successfully harvested their first Sumo trees.

The second season just launched, and chefs such as Josiah Citrin of Mélisse in Los Angeles are already using the supersweet fruit. Citrin knows to leave well enough alone and pairs the sublime segments with just crème fraîche and Demerara sugar.

But the season ends within a month, so you'd best move quickly lest you disappoint your inner beast.