Meet the Edward Scissorhands of fruits — the Buddha’s hand. It kind of looks like a squd-y, squiggly lemon, with plenty of funny yellowy tentacles. Buddha’s hands are citrons, which usually look like big, rough lemons, but with less juice. This fruit is popular in Japan and China during New Year’s, because it’s believed to bring good luck and symbolizes happiness, wealth and longevity. Scholars believed that Buddhist monks brought this fruit over to China from India sometime after the 4th century, where the fruit is often used as an offering to Buddhist temples.
Like most citrons, it has no juice, pulp or seeds, but it has a sweet rind. You can try it candied or preserved as jam. It can be used in sweet or savory dishes — it also smells really good. Some people even use it to wash their clothes.
While it has been eaten and farmed for a long time in China, the U.S. didn’t start growing it until the 1980s. Now you can find it almost anywhere in Asian grocery stores. If may look a little strange and take a bit of extra preparation to cook with, but it’s definitely an aromatic and exotic addition to dishes.