[Sca-cooks] Strange questions for the New Year

Lilinah lilinah at earthlink.net
Mon Jan 1 19:07:12 PST 2007

Well, i get the digest, and i'm sure this has been dealt with, but...

Devra wrote:
>I'd like some assistance with preparation of some  Strange Stuph. In my
>(semi-)local Stop and Shop, they had a bizarre-looking  object 
>resembling the head
>of Khuthoogol -

You mean (shudder)... (in a quiet whispered voice... Cthulhu?)

>lots of thin-ish roots or branches.  They labeled it 'Budhha's
>Hand.' Is it a fruit? A vegetable? How does one cook  it? [I am assuming it
>is native to the Far East, and probably never never known  in Our Area in
>period, but this is the group with the widest knowledge...]

Oooo! Buddha's Hand is a citron. It's soooo wonderfully fragrant! The 
Berkeley Bowl has them often.

I've never eaten one, just kept it for its scent. The skin is 
incredibly thick and there's not much juicy fruit inside, but i think 
it might make a nice candied peel.

>     Second question: the local (to Weight Watchers)  greengrocers seem to
>carry green, fuzzy, unripe almonds and also pistachios.  What does one do with

I don't know about the pistachios, but green almonds are eaten as is, 
fuzzy part and all dipped in salt.

Here are various info bits i found on the net (i didn't save the 
URLs, but if one puts partial quotes into a search engine, they 
should turn up)

--- Quote One ---
...Take the dish shown on the cover, for example, a quiet still life 
of sliced prosciutto, green almonds and white rose nectarines. The 
shiny green almonds in the photograph, slipped out of their fuzzy, 
green pods, are marvelous things, a San Francisco cult ingredient at 
the moment, but are only available at a very few farmers' markets, 
and even then, for just a few weeks in early to mid-spring. The 
nectarines, a delicious white-fleshed variety, are also an organic 
farmers' market specialty (you won't find them at Ralphs) and don't 
become really ripe until summer. The Parma prosciutto isn't rare, but 
is pretty hard to find outside of certain urban areas. The recipe is 
simple - slice nectarines, shell almonds, serve - but in its platonic 
form, it might be possible maybe one or two weeks each year, and then 
only in the Bay Area. The dish made with blanched regular almonds, 
Rodgers' alternate suggestion, was almost mockingly inadequate
--- End One ---

--- Quote Two ---
My friend Joan has client-friends, Sue and Karl, who run Morton 
Almond Farms, a 40-acre family almond farm near Modesto, Calif. Last 
week, Sue showed up at work with a big zippered bag of green almonds, 
which Joan couriered back to Pittsburgh in her carry-on.

The whole fruit, about an inch long, is picked in the early stage of 
growth before the shell and nut have hardened, and it is covered in 
downy fuzz. Cut through, the outer skin is the color of wasabi, the 
flesh the hue of avocado and the baby nut is a pale, well, almond 
color. Infant almonds are in markets in the Middle East and the 
Mediterranean, where there is a profusion of almond orchards.

In Iran, in early spring, street vendors offer salted fresh, green 
almonds as a popular snack. Cookbook author Paula Wolfert says they 
can be scattered on a salad of orange and mint or included in a 
tagine or stew. Chopped, they're often added to yogurt. Since this 
was a first for me, I was content to be minimalist. I served them 
chilled and dipped into coarse salt and nibbled them, velvety coating 
and all. The flavor is slightly acidic, slightly green-herby and not 
at all like the mature almonds we buy shelled.
--- End Two ---

--- Quote Three ---
In Turkey, when they are crisp, fuzzy and green, they are delicious 
with a glass of anise flavored raki. If you find them too sour, you 
can soak them in salted water for a short time or if you don't, 
simply split the hull in half, discard the gelatinous liquid, pick up 
one of the halves and dip into into fine salt before popping in your 
In southeastern Turkey, they are used as a garnish in cold yogurt soup.

By midsummer when the fruit mutates, the membrane turns into a hard 
shell, and the fluid inside turns into a moist, sweet teardrop-shaped 
fresh green almond---this is when I've seen Tunisians scatter them on 
salads and Moroccans use them in their chicken with turmeric and 
ginger kdra tagines. To open them up you will need to stick them in a 
350 oven for a few minutes then run a knife along the slit. Some 
chefs soak them in salted water with a little milk to firm them up so 
they can be sauteed or sliced.

Two years ago, I bought some from Big valley farms... http://www.bignut.com
--- End Three ---
[Urtatim notes: I don't know the date of the above post - it could 
have been from summer 2006, or from 10 years ago]

--- Quote Four ---
...Alan Davidson (Oxford Companion to Food) wrote a splendid long 
entry in which he mentioned that "'green' (immature, soft) almonds 
are eaten in some places as titbits" without adding more specifics.
- snip-

He wrote that in Western Europe, Provence is the northern limit of 
almond cultivation. Any search for old French recipes using "green 
almonds" would (I guess) have to concentrate on Provence, although I 
vaguely remember seeing almond trees and orchards as far north as the 
Loire (where, of course, the climate is generally mild). He wrote 
that the almond was being grown in the south of France as early as 
the 8th c BCE, and suggested that it was the Phoenicians (ancestors 
of modern day Lebanese) who introduced its cultivation.

Finally hit a jackpot when I discovered a splendid recipe in Claudia 
Roden (the volume on Jewish Food) for "Agneau aux fe`ves vertes et 
aux amandes". She notes that this is an ancient Berber dish (Morocco) 
and as the seasons for green almonds and springtime favas coincide, 
the dish is usually made during the Passover season (served between 
Purim and Pesach//elsewhere, I learned that Iraqi Jews nibbled on 
green almonds seasoned with salt and pepper while the Haggadah is 
being read). Her recipe actually calls for blanched almonds although 
she notes that the original dish is made with the small unripe fruit. 
I don't have the recipe with me at the moment, but remember it as 
being quite simple. Lamb is browned, and then simmered in 
water/salt/pepper/a bit of mace until tender. Two chopped onions are 
sauteed and stirred with the green almonds, favas and honey into the 
stew. My! I will have to find someone to make me this dish this 

Olney, of course, mentions green almonds. This occurs three times in 
the index to his coffee-table volume on Provence. He says that green 
almonds are usually chopped up and used in omelettes (he gives a 
recipe for zucchini and green almond omelette), salad and dessert. He 
notes that the season in Provence is late June/early July (more on 
the season for this state of the fruit later). He also gives a recipe 
for a mace'doine of fruit in Bandol wine. Since he provides this 
recipe from the Var, I thought that the cookbook he wrote with Lulu 
(Madame Lucien Peyraud of Tempier) would defintely have another 
recipe. But I didn't see any on one quick look-through. There's 
nothing in his other books either. And nothing either in the first 
cookbook of one of his most famous disciples, Alice Waters.

I have not yet searched carefully through the cookbooks of celebrity 
chefs (but found one recipe for a peach/green almond dessert in Roger 
Verge's book on fruits). A colleague familiar with the European 
Michelin circuit told me that it is becoming the 
ingredient-of-the-moment! He said that it has been spotted at Raco de 
Can Fabes, Santi Santamaria's Michelin 3-star a short drive away from 
Barcelona. I had not thought to check my El Bulli cookbooks but will 
comb through Ferran Adria's (and Alberto's!) recipes tonight to see 
if anything could be found.

Did a little website search as well. Found lots of references to 
salted green almonds enjoyed as street food or as a snack item in the 
context of Lebanese, Syrian, Israeli, Iraqi, Iranian cultures.
- snip -

Finally, one little question about why, given the importance of the 
almond industry to California, no one has thought to market the green 
unripe fruit. Could it be that this is not thought to be profitable 
enough to sacrifice? Could it be bec of the fuzzy skin which is 
thought to be potentially off-putting? Could it be folk wisdom (i.e. 
folk prejudice) about the green fruit being poisonous (some varieties 
of almonds do have some poison in them)? Or could it be that the 
cultivars most planted/preferred in California are diff from those in 
the MEast and just do not produce young fruit that is as alluring? 
Could it be that it has simply lacked a powerful advocate among 
celebrity chefs?
--- End Four ---

Yeah, yeah, the Berkeley Bowl had 'em and i bought them and wasn't 
sure what to do with them, so i ransacked the net for info...

Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita

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