Monday, January 25, 2010

candlenut tree (buah keras)

the other day i went with my walking kaki to malcolm park to look for the candlenut tree. the small park next to the s'pore chinese girls' school was once designated a spice garden and my kaki was very sure that this tree existed in the garden. we looked at all the trees but could not identify the candlenut tree.

today, we went to the eco garden at botanic gardens to take photographs of two candlenut trees which are flowering. we did not see any fruit on either of the trees.

the candlenut is often used cooked in indonesian and malaysian cuisine, where it is called kemiri in indonesian or buah keras in malay.

each nut contains one or two waxy white kernels, and after suitable preparation, are widely used as a flavouring ingredient in indonesian and malaysian households.

the usual practice is to roast the nuts, crack them open and saute the kernels. these are then crushed with other ingredients like shallots, garlic and chilli to produce a mixture used in savoury dishes.

the nuts contain a toxin which make them unsuitable to eat raw; but, during cooking, the toxin disappears.

the nut is very oily and it has been used in the past to make candles and hence its name - candlenut.

the candlenut looks very much like the macadamia nut (above picture). both candlenut and macadamia go rancid easily. outside of this region, macadamia nuts are sometimes substituted for candlenuts. the flavour, however, is not quite the same, as the candlenut is much more bitter.

the candlenuts are sold in packs of 100g, 200g and 1000g at sheng siong supermarket. the smallest pack retails for 70 or 80 cents, depending on the brand.


Victor said...

The flowers in the 3rd photo looks like a type which my mother used to cook soup. I have not tasted this type of soup for a long time. Do you know what flowers I am talking about? The flowers are quite tiny - about 1 cm long only.

yg said...

victor, i don't know of any flower used for cooking soup.

doris said...

lotus buds for chapchye, magnolia? petals for cheng tng

yg said...

doris, magnolia flowers are much too big.