[Sca-cooks] Strange questions for the New Year
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...
>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.
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
--- 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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