I had several items on my mental checklist that I wanted to see/do/eat when I was in Palawan. I definitely wanted to see a kasoy (cashew) tree, taste the fruit if in season, and get lots of the nuts at the â€œfarm price.â€ So as we were preparing to leave Culion Island, I asked our hosts if it would be at all possible to see a kasoy tree and get some fruit. â€œAy nakuâ€ they sighed, upset they couldnâ€™t grant this request, â€œkasoy season ended two weeks ago!â€ Internally disappointed, I opted to just take a photo of a tree and finding one of those from the town meant a short tricycle ride up in the steeper foothills of the nearby mountains. Sure enough, the first tree we found near a seminary or Jesuit home was lush but totally devoid of fruits. Even the remnants on the pavement below the tree were definitely biodegraded at that point. But Marketman can be a bit bull-headed at times, and with two guys in my tricycle, I pleaded that we find a fruit on the tree. I had this odd sixth sense that I was being stubborn for a reason. Some said I might have to trek way up a hill, others said no chance, but after some looking, as if waiting for someone to come and take its photo, we found one PERFECT (to me) kasoy fruit still hanging on a tree!!! The problem was it was in someoneâ€™s backyardâ€¦
A quick word with the homeâ€™s owner and they so utterly graciously agreed that I could photograph the fruit, and the harvest it carefully so as to have my first view, smell and taste of fresh kasoy! Isnâ€™t it SIMPLY STUNNING??? Kasoy or Cashew (Anacardium occidentale) appears to be native to Northern Brazil, though the vast majority of cashews on the planet today are grown in India. It is a medium sized lush tree with large leaves and the fruit is one of the most bizarre yet endearing that I have ever come across. The cashew â€œfruitâ€ is actually the encased curved meat that we usually call the â€œnut.â€ To confuse things further, once the nut matures, what looks like an uninflated balloon then fills up into a fantastic yellow or red orange color. It seems monkeys love this fruit and I draw a parallel description in that the bright cashew apple is kinda like the bright red butt of a baboon. Hahaha!!! Actually it kind of looks lika heavy curved cashew nut attached to the base of a makopa or tambis fruit.
When the apple fully ripens, it falls to the ground and rapidly spoils. But the nut is left encased in a super hard shell. Therefore, one doesnâ€™t pull the fruit off the tree like I did, they just wait for it to fall. Talk about low-hanging fruit; this one is already on the groundâ€¦ But what amazed me is that you had to get hundreds and hundreds of nuts to get a kiloâ€™s worth! No wonder this stuff is so expensive! The soft cashew apple is edible and I ate it for the first time ever in Palawan. It was a bit under ripe and astringent, but the aroma and taste was totally new to me. Not something I would pine for but definitely worth trying at least once in oneâ€™s life. Apparently, the apple is squeezed into a juice but I suspect the fruit must be totally and perfectly ripe to enjoy it that way. Once the fruits have fallen and rotted away, the nuts are collected (mostly in the mountain sides all over Northern Palawan) and readied for processing… One of the amazing things about my food journey as a result of this website is my heightened awareness to different ingredients and a new willingness to seek out things I have never tried or taken for granted in the past. As soon as I returned from Palawan, on a trip to Batangas, I noticed at least three vendors selling kasoy fruit as well… it seems it is grown there as well. And in my 40+ years of life, I don’t ever recall coming close to a kasoy fruit before; or if I did, I didn’t know what it was!