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what to do with candlenuts, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves

Aimee Jun 13, 2009 01:54 PM

I bought them on impulse at Kalustians. I've used lemongrass and kaffir leaves in curries before, but never candlenuts. I'm open to anything. Thanks.

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  1. Pata_Negra RE: Aimee Jun 13, 2009 02:17 PM

    first thing comes to mind: rendang. are you familiar with Nyonya cookery? candlenuts are common in Malay and Indonesian cookery. note: do not eat the nuts raw.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Pata_Negra
      Emmmily RE: Pata_Negra Jun 13, 2009 03:31 PM

      Have you looked at any of the threads for May's COTM, Cradle of Flavor? I liked the cookbook so much I ended up buying a copy. Those three ingredients show up in a lot of the recipes. If you're in New York, I know the NYPL has a copy, since I just returned mine this afternoon. Like Pata_Negra says, candlenuts are poisonous raw, so be sure to cook before eating.

      1. re: Emmmily
        Aimee RE: Emmmily Jun 13, 2009 05:55 PM

        I just tried to reserve it but I have too many on hold already. This new ten book limit is killing me!

      2. re: Pata_Negra
        Aimee RE: Pata_Negra Jun 13, 2009 05:56 PM

        The package of nuts says not to eat them raw. Thanks for the warning though. I decided to flip through a charmaine solomon asian cookbook. I found a few different things in the Indonesian section that look great.

      3. g
        gordeaux RE: Aimee Jun 13, 2009 02:32 PM

        Aside from thai curry pastes, I use a lot of lime leaf and lemongrass for stuffing the cavities of chickens before I smoke them. I use the stuffing twice. Somewhere near the end of fall, I'll smoke up 15 chickens, and vaccuum pack them. Lime leaf and lemongrass permeated chicken flesh is effin good, and it freezes perfectly.

        1. alanbarnes RE: Aimee Jun 13, 2009 02:47 PM

          Traditional Hawai'ian cuisine uses inamona, which is roasted candlenuts (aka kukui nuts) ground with salt. It's often served with sashimi, and is a critical ingredient in poke. Here's one of my favorite recipes:

          Cube a pound or so of 'ahi (yellowfin) or 'aku (skipjack) tuna. Sprinkle generously with alaea salt (substitute sea salt if you don't have alaea) a teaspoon of inamona, and a few tablespoons of Aloha shoyu (if necessary, substitute standard Japanese soy sauce, but Aloha is da kine you want). Add some finely sliced sweet onion (preferably from Kula), a couple of scallions, chopped, and a big handful of ogo, limu, or other seaweed. Add a little ginger and some sesame oil, let marinate for at least an hour, and you're good to go.

          As Pata_Negra says, don't eat the candlenuts raw. Even cooked, moderation is the key. They have a powerful laxative effect.

          6 Replies
          1. re: alanbarnes
            Aimee RE: alanbarnes Jun 13, 2009 05:57 PM

            That sounds really good. I don't know anything about Hawaiian food.

            1. re: alanbarnes
              adamshoe RE: alanbarnes Jun 13, 2009 07:05 PM

              I had no idea you could use kukui nuts for eating!! Every time I go to Hawaii, I buy Kukui nut oil as a MOISTURIZER! It's great for your hair and skin (and cuticles, and feet, etc.) It's made by oils of aloha and you can only find it in HI. I knew that they were called candlenuts because the native Hawaiians used them as lights due to their high oil content. Thanks for the tip on eating them. They MUST be good for you. Mahalo nui loa. adam

              1. re: alanbarnes
                dxs RE: alanbarnes Jun 15, 2009 02:12 PM

                This is very timely, I recently returned from a trip to Hawai'i during which I became addicted to poke. I was actually about to create a post called 'What makes Poke Poke?' but I guess there's no need. Interesting about the kukui nuts, I sampled many different pokes but never noticed any nuttiness, either in flavour or texture. Given that you say it's a critical ingredient, can you recommend any substitutions? (I haven't looked for candlenuts in Toronto, but I'd be surprised to find them). What qualities would you say the addition of inamona adds to the poke?

                1. re: dxs
                  alanbarnes RE: dxs Jun 15, 2009 02:31 PM

                  Purists frown on it and would insist that you mail order inamona, but I've found that ground macadamia nuts or cashews make an acceptable substitute.

                  As far as what it adds, you've got a little oiliness, a little texture, and a hint of nuttiness. It's not a prominent flavor, but it really rounds everything out.

                  1. re: alanbarnes
                    dxs RE: alanbarnes Jun 15, 2009 03:39 PM

                    Good to know, thanks. I did bring back alaea salt, so at least that component will be 'authentic'.

                    1. re: alanbarnes
                      Caitlin McGrath RE: alanbarnes Jun 15, 2009 08:37 PM

                      The author of Cradle of Flavor, referenced above, recommends macadamias as a sub for candlenuts for the oiliness and texture they bring.

                2. lollya RE: Aimee Jun 14, 2009 08:14 AM

                  i'm SUPER jealous. i can't find kaffir lime leaves locally. grr. i'm in minneapolis, you'd think one would be able to track some down in such a diverse city. anyways...i think they are WONDERFUL in rice.

                  1. Sam Fujisaka RE: Aimee Jun 14, 2009 08:32 AM

                    They're poisonous raw? I ate a couple of raw candlenuts in East Timor and nothing happened.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                      alanbarnes RE: Sam Fujisaka Jun 14, 2009 05:28 PM

                      Apparently the raw nuts contain the toxins saponin and phorbol, but not in sufficient quantities to be medically dangerous except to young children and other especially susceptible individuals.


                      So they won't kill you, but if you eat enough of them you'll probably regret it.

                    2. yamalam RE: Aimee Jun 14, 2009 10:47 PM

                      I had a lot of extra lemongrass, kaffir leaves, ginger and galangal after a thai cooking spree so this weekend I made infused vodka. I did one lemongrass-kaffir and one ginger-galangal. I'll let you know how they come out next week.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: yamalam
                        chefathome RE: yamalam Jun 15, 2009 03:11 PM

                        Make a lovely lemongrass syrup to brush onto delicate meats or drizzled over fruit. Just make a simple syrup (one part water one part sugar) and add bruised lemongrass stalks. Boil about 10 minutes and bring to room temperature. Strain. Lovely! Can also be added to drinks.

                        Same can be done with kaffir lime leaves. In fact, I make a killer kaffir lime leaf jelly that complements duck, lamb, etc.

                      2. c
                        Cinnamon RE: Aimee Jun 15, 2009 07:47 PM

                        Kaffir lime leaves are integral to Thai curries. Also very thinly slivered they make a nice topping for it.

                        One of my favorite things to do with lemongrass is stick the inner part of a stalk (actually cut up into a few pieces) into a steaming pot of jasmine rice (just after the boiling part, so that the 10 minutes or so of additional steaming off the burner with the cover on will be lemongrass-infused).

                        1. m
                          mlgb RE: Aimee Jun 16, 2009 10:28 PM

                          I'm growing both lemon grass and kaffir lime. I like to use them in soups (especially chicken soups). I'll finely slice the lemon grass and chiffonade a young kaffir lime for salads. I'll steam salmon or other fish ontop of kaffir lime leaves. I'll steep lemon grass and chopped fresh ginger for tea.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: mlgb
                            Cinnamon RE: mlgb Jun 16, 2009 11:02 PM

                            Are you using the kaffir zest too? As one of those people who only buys the leaves rather than having access to the whole tree, I wonder what that tastes best with.

                            1. re: Cinnamon
                              mlgb RE: Cinnamon Jun 17, 2009 07:56 PM

                              Yes I have used the zest but the fruit is so knobby and bumpy that it's not a very productive exercise to try and grate the zest (since all you get are the tops of the bumps before you reach the pith). I think I tried making some kaffir lime flavored sugar but it wasn't especially worth the effort.

                              The one time I tried the juice from a green full sized fruit, it was bitter. Maybe I should try some juice from a yellow one. BTW the flowers are tasty!.

                              It's a lot simpler to use the leaves so I pretty much ignore the fruit now.

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