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Jun 13, 2009 01:54 PM

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

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. 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

      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

        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

        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. 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. 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

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

            1. re: alanbarnes

              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

                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

                  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

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

                    1. re: alanbarnes

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

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

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      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.