Cashew, the seed that wanted to see the world
Legend has it that a sunny spring morning a Fairy walking through the woods. There was a slight breeze and the first rays of sunshine passed through leafy trees.
As she was very curious, she observed everything and there was no detail that would escape from her expert gaze. She was looking at the gnarled trunk of a mahogany tree when she heard a small sigh. She looked around, but saw nothing. A second sigh much deeper made her realize that it came from a red fruit, like an apple hanging from a solitary branch. When approached she asked it the cause of its sadness and a tiny voice came from inside the fruit.
Seed said to her it was locked inside the fruit which prevented it from seeing the wonderful things happening around it. As it was a good fruit, fairy decided to grant the wish and the seed sprouted growing toward sunlight.
Besides stories, the truth is that the cashew is one of the few exogenous fruits (with seed out) of the plant kingdom. The hard crust that covers -and protects itis very poisonous and its toxic oil (cardol) can cause skin irritation, even burns. Therefore it is roasted to remove this noxious oil, and thus to make it edible and delicious.
Called as marañon, anacardium, acajú or merey, this kidney-shaped seed is native to the Amazon basin. The Portuguese brought it to India and spread it throughout Southeast Asia. In Europe it was not discovered until the nineteenth century, but in the Caribbean lands it was already enjoyed the seguidilla due to its tempting seeds.
Here in the Dominican Republic, they are part of our daily lives and can be found wrapped in small bags or "small plastic packs” in any traffic lights of our country. We call it cajuil which comes from the original voice of the Portuguese cajú (that comes from tupí acajú) and its special flavor has become it in a favorite bite to eat for kids and grown-up people. In the play, at a desperate traffic jam in the capital or when strolling through any park, you always see someone who is unable to resist the temptation of those little seeds.
The cashew's pip is not only the one eaten. The fruit is used for jellies, candies and jams. If blended and let it to ferment we would obtain delicious vinegar, and its shell is good for an effective insect repellent; the oil can be used for waterproofing, varnishes, glues, inks and even brake fluid. Its leaves, as infusion, cure various ailments and folds (as plaster) heal wounds and stop bleeding.
Anyway, next time you are into the forest, stay alert. If you hear the little voice of the restless seed won't forget to thank it for being so generous.
Vichyssoise of Fine Herbs and Cajuil
We will use
For the soup: 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 6 medium leeks, 2 onions, 5 cups of vegetable stock, 1 potato, ¼ cup of cajuil seeds, 1 cup of cream, salt and pepper, 8 basil leaves, 1 sprig of tarragon, 5 marjoram leaves, 1 sage leaves.
For the garnish: 1 cup of cajuil seeds, diced cooked beets, diced pickled carrots, leaves of fine herbs, boiled quail eggs.
For the soup: cut leek and onion in strips. In a pot with oil, fry them lightly. Once they are soft get them wet with the stock, add diced potatoes and cajuil seeds. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, add the cream, season and add herbs. Let it to temper and put a lid on it. Crush, strain and put into fridge. For the garnish: roast and grind cajuil seeds. Put all sautéed ingredients around seeds on the dish.
Pork wok, anacardium and Sake
We will use
For the wok: 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil, 2 tablespoons of sesame oil, 2 cloves garlic chopped, 4 onions on sticks, ½ diced green pepper, 1 diced carrot, 1 green tomato in quarters, 8 bunches of broccoli, 2 pounds of pork tenderloin in tacos, ½ cup of cajuil seeds, ground pepper, ¼ cup of sake, 6 tablespoons of soy sauce.
For the wok: in a wok or frying pan put oils together and brown the chopped garlic. Add spring onion, pepper and carrot and sauté. Add the green tomato, broccoli and sauté a little bit more. Remove vegetables from wok and reserve. In the remaining oil fry the pork tacos and cajuil seeds. Once they are brown flambé with sake and season with pepper. Add soy sauce and reduce. Add vegetables and sauté for 1 minute. Add salt to taste.
Cajuil Mug Cake with Vainilla Cream
We will use
For mug cake: 4 tablespoons of cajuil flour, 1 tablespoon of flour, 3 tablespoons of yogurt, ½ teaspoon of yeast, 1 tablespoon of vanilla essence, 3 egg whites, 3 tablespoons of sugar, pinch of salt, 3 tablespoons of chopped crystallized fruit.
For vanilla cream: 2 cups of liquid cream, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 2 spring of vanilla.
For mug cakes: grind cajuil seeds until they have flour texture. In a bowl we put together cajuil seeds flour, normal flour, yogurt, yeast and vanilla essence. Mix well. On the other hand, put together the egg whites with the sugar and salt and beat until soft peaks. Add egg whites to the flour mixture, stirring well. Add the crystalized fruits and serve in four cups. Cook in microwave for 4 to 5 minutes on high power.
For vanilla cream: heat the cream in a saucepan. Once it is boiling remove from heat. Add the sugar and vanilla. Let it to temper and put a lid on it. Strain and cool in the fridge for 4 hours. Use an electric mixer.
Put the mug cake on the plate alternating vanilla cream, crystalized fruit and cajuil seeds.