12 Apr2007

k2

Sometimes I get a real smile and a positive buzz from one of my posts and the reactions it gets from readers. When I put the first post on the kasoy (cashew) fruit out, I knew I was going to do a second post to wrap it all up… you didn’t really think I was going to search high and low for this spectacular fruit/nut and just leave it at with an elaborate description, did you? But what really amazed me were the amount of comments that were left on that post in just a k1few hours… and all of them informative, interesting, and sometimes partially alluding to more information that maybe some of you would like to learn more about. Also, the number of people who have come across fresh kasoy before surprised me, maybe because I had never seen it myself prior to this Palawan trip! Your comments were terrific in that they suggested kasoy fruit as a chopped snack with salt and or nipa vinegar, as a topping for pancit, as a salad, a flavor and texture agent for sinigang, and even cooking of the young leaves of the tree. I learned its other local name, balubad (and apparently, Batuban, Balogo, Kasul, Kosing as well), and frankly, sniggered a bit at all the references/allusions to warts, chicken pox, itchy skin, toxic sap, shell nightmares, etc. So let me set the story a little straighter, and please feel free to correct any misconceptions I might have, as, after all, I often learn more from you, the readers than you do from Marketmanila…

According to Doreen Fernandez, in her book on Philippine Fruits, the local name kasuy or kasoy is derived from the Portuguese acaju, acajuiba or cajueiro which in turn comes from k4Tupi Indian words acaju or acajou. The Portuguese found these nuts in Brazil and took it with them to other tropical parts of the globe, including India and Southeast Asia. In the Philippines, the Spaniards are believed to have introduced the plant by way of Mexico and it thrives near sea shores and is excellent at preventing soil erosion. The tree is medium size in height and frankly, nice to look at and could be an ornamental in your backyard garden… It turns out the wood is useful and the sap is used to make varnishes and adhesives. Finally, Ms. Fernandez writes that tannins from the bark can even be used for tanning leather! But most of the attention is really placed on the fruit/nut that appears to be so blatantly naked and exposed at the base of a pulpy, juicy and attractive “apple.”

My previous post talked about the cashew apple being edible, and your comments do suggest many of you have tasted it; but in reality, with some 600-700 fruits needed for a single kilo of shelled nuts, there must be a bloody lot of cashew apple out there and I did wonder who was consuming all of it. Some enquiries in Palawan got me this answer: “Swine, you fool!” or roughly translated… the cashew fruit is predominantly fed to the pigs! Hahaha! I would never have guessed! I have also read that the fruit can be made into jelly but I have never tried and if I had enough fruit and a decent recipe to guide me, I would do it, you know I would! But enough of the cashew apple, already, let’s shift focus to the nut itself… So you think you have this figure out, the apple is the fruit, the curved hard thingee is the nut. You are wrong. The nut is INSIDE the curved hard thingee that is in fact called the “receptacle of the nut,” according to Alan Davidson. Why don’t they just call it the nutshell? Hmmmm….

The kasoy nut, according to Davidson, is contained within a hard double walled receptacle or shell and between the two walls is a substance that causes k3several of wart/burn/death comments in the original post. The “pain on the skin” substance is actually made up of cardol and anacardic acid. In layman’s terms, IT BURNS YOUR SKIN. Natives of Culion said that, as kids, you could crack a fresh shell, chase after your childhood buddy and if you pinned them down long enough for you to smush the cashew shell/liquid against their skin, they would have a “tattoo” for life. Yipes, nice way to amuse yourself on a summer day… can you imagine if you intentionally burned cashew shell shapes all over you body with some panache? You would look like an island warrior or perhaps a walking human wallpaper sample from an avant garde European manufacturer…

At any rate, the caustic substance is what burns the hands if you don’t know how to open the shells properly. It is also the substance used to burn off warts, though some sources say they cause warts instead. Fernandez says the burning substance causes chickens to “catch a cold,” though one of my commenters says it causes chicken pox… another outrageous and amusing visual for me as chickens running around the range with chicken pox marks borders on the totally hilarious. At any rate, dealing with the poison makes extraction of the precious and delicious nuts all the more alluring and worthwhile… So how do they actually extract the nuts despite the perils involved? According to my sources in Palawan, the nuts are gathered from under the trees, the apples are discarded or fed to Porky and the hard grayish shells are first left out in the hot summer sun for 3-4 days, presumably to dry off or dissipate the acid like poisons. The hard nuts can then be roasted carefully, taking care not to cause a neighborhood chicken pox on chickens epidemic (I am jiving you) or carefully opened to extract the actual cashew nut inside and this again is either sun-dried or roasted carefully.

Extracting the nut is a pain in the rear, no matter how you figure it. The process was clearly described to me, though I have to admit I didn’t actually observe it. The k6hard shell is placed on a piece of wood with a curved well etched into it. Then a sharp knife, also with a curved blade, to mimic the shape of the shell, is lowered as you would a paper cutter blade until you cut the shell and the whole nut pops out. This is labor intensive, time-consuming and dangerous if you are not aware of the proper way to do it. The nuts are then roasted dry or fried with oil and flavored with garlic, salt or cooked with sugar. The best I could figure (unless my memory fails me, and it does), I counted roughly 700-750 whole nuts in a kilo (actually I only counted 100 grams and extrapolated) which sold in Coron for PHP400. It sounds like a lot, but when you realize you need 750+ fruits, 750+ individual cuts with a funky knife, the risk of unwanted tattoos and warts removed where there were none, and the roasting, this is an incredible bargain if you ask me!

k5

And how do our native nuts compare with the nuts from India, which is the current world leader in cashew production? My “Indian” sample were the premium salted cashews they sell in 1 kilo tubs at S&R and which are a staple snack on my never ending diet. The Indian cashews are plumper, bigger and saltier because of the added dust fine salt (pile of nuts on the right in photo). They were about 400-450 whole pieces to a kilo and therefore about 40% bigger on average. I like these nuts but they can taste “commercial” and blander, lacking “soul,” almost as though they were blanched or processed to improve looks, texture and uniformity. The local cashew nuts, on the other hand have serious “character”. They are smaller (about 700 a kilo, left pile of nuts in photo), their flavor is more intense. They are almost always sold split, which baffles me a bit. I would take a kilo of local nuts over the Indian ones any day… but I want mine totally fresh from the source… Our native nuts were also about 40% cheaper than the fancy packaged ones from India. Other sources of nuts such as Vietnam also suffer in that they are a bit older so as usual, fresh and near the source wins, in my opinion…. I also got to try some cashew nut brittle which I thought was interesting but not terrific, I found it a bit soft and the brittle was undercooked and didn’t hit that candy stage…at any rate, I loved the cashews in Palawan, and came home with several kilos worth!

 

COMMENTS:

  1. tulip says:

    I remember my partly Portuguese lolo calls it caju(maybe that is really acaju) and he always makes a cashew paste as a pasalubong from Batangas for me. We share the fondness/love for different nuts except peanuts, so instead of peanut butter, we both indulge in cashew butter for our toast. While the Batangas panocha goes to other family members, the cashew paste/butter are just for both of us. He also cooks with it in stew. Try to make it, yum!

    Apr 12, 2007 | 4:06 pm

     
  2. ShoppaHolique says:

    Indian cashews indeed look “commercial”…

    I only eat cashews from Palawan. The ones from Antipolo has that acidic/metallic aftertaste…even the fresh ones.

    Marketman, that’s a great comparison (and specific too) on local and indian cashews. How about comparing local cashews next time?

    Apr 12, 2007 | 4:28 pm

     
  3. carol says:

    My family loves kasuy. I get them from a vendor at Salcedo Market – half-shells at P295 and whole at P395 per kilo. Sweet, fresh, clean-tasting, no “itchy” feeling in the mouth, unlike others. The same brand (from Bataan) is also available at Market Market for a slightly higher price.

    Apr 12, 2007 | 5:20 pm

     
  4. pixeldose says:

    Cashews have always been my favorite munch on snack while I watch TV. I’d pop it in my mouth one after the other straight from a can of Planters.

    I’ve since cut down on my ‘nuts’ consumption lately however as I’ve read recently that nuts are rich in oxalate that causes kidney stone as one gets older. Well, maybe it was the weekend binging on chocolate that exacerbates it :). Dang it, no more Scharffenberger chocolate either. Sigh.

    Anyway, good write up on the ‘kasuy’, MM. ‘Never seen a ‘kasuy apple’ before. Wikipedia says the cashew apple fruit juice can be processed and distilled into liquor while the shell casing of the nuts can be pulverized and used as friction particles for brake linings! This fruit sure does have many uses.

    Apr 12, 2007 | 5:58 pm

     
  5. millet says:

    i just remembered..somebody made a valiant effort to market cashew wine some years ago…never got to try it, though. wonder what happened to that enterprise. i also rememeber that cashews is their hard shells are roasted with sand (like some chestnuts)- this is to ensure even roasting, and also for the sand to absorb the “toxic sap”.

    oh, wow..that’s the bandi (cashew brittle) that i was referrring to in your previous post! see how chock-full of cashews it is! the palawan bandi-makers tend to cook it that way – “siksik” with cashews, but with the caramel just barely reaching the hard-ball stage, so it is opaque.

    Apr 12, 2007 | 6:03 pm

     
  6. purplegirl says:

    i, too, often wondered why Pinoy cashews are split. it irked my dad to no end. in any case, cashews remain to be one of the most expensive nuts here in the US. unfortunately, they don’t come in adobo-garlic flavor.

    Apr 12, 2007 | 7:16 pm

     
  7. gingging says:

    hi marketman, in Botolan, Zambales where my husband hails, they have a a lot of cashew trees. I remember when i wasn’t even married yet, my husband invited me to the beach and we forgot to bring water for drinking. His cousin gave me a cashew apple which he said can substitute for water. I sucked on the cashew fruit which was very juicy (the juice is a bit “mapakla”) and true enough it quenched my thirst. Also, what they do (and even children there can roast cashews), they roast the cashew nuts on a makeshift yero. When the juice starts dripping out, that’s the tricky part. The cashew nuts start to burn because of the acid. They have to time it carefully, just enough to be able to crack the nut but at the same time not to char the nut. When they feel the time is right, they overturn the yero in one fell swoop on the ground to put out the fire. They let the nuts cool down, then start cracking the shell. I love fresh cashews. They’re actually soft and sweetish. From that time on, I never ate commercially sold cashews. So different in taste.

    Apr 12, 2007 | 8:06 pm

     
  8. Catalina says:

    Fresh cashews, called balubad, were pretty common in Bulacan in the 1950′s and 1960′s. We loved both the fruit and the nuts. We however prefer nuts that had been roasted with the skins/shells on, which are more fresh and sweeter than the more popular skinned versions, which could sometimes be a bit bitter. The shells are usually tough, so we discard them; but no harm eating them, especially those that stick to the nuts (sayang naman itapon :-) Roasted nuts with skins are available in Antipolo, where you can still see some trees as well.

    Apr 12, 2007 | 9:34 pm

     
  9. Mita says:

    MM, The cashew fruit and nut was one of the things I wanted to write about in my blog when I moved back home. Too many things going on though. But oh you did great on this one! It really took me back to my childhood. Thank you.

    Also, about local produce…I’ve noticed that even if vegetables and other produce are not as large or thick or pretty as US-quality ones, there is definitely more flavor and “earthiness” in the local produce. I surprised myself when I realized I like our local potatoes better than any Idaho.

    Gingging, we’re from Zambales too and that’s exactly how we extracted the nuts. It was always an event when we got the cashews (fruit included) from Zambales.

    Apr 12, 2007 | 9:45 pm

     
  10. Maria Clara says:

    There must a machine out there that process and roast casuy nuts. I can picture the tonnage amount of nuts India processed for distribution across the globe. This is the time politicians in Palawan should come up with the idea of casuy nut machine processor that will benefit their citizens – instead of processing the nuts the primitive way and ease the production line. Indeed our casuy nuts are organically grown that yields flavorful and robust taste. Also the sea breeze helps a lot in nurturing them. I love casuy nuts in any form and substance especially the dessert side.

    Apr 13, 2007 | 12:51 am

     
  11. Big Al says:

    Here is an interesting link about a Filipino inventor who created an herbal cream preparation from cashew nuts: http://www.healthtoday.net/main_section.cfm?ID=837&section=Printer_Friendly

    Apr 13, 2007 | 2:47 am

     
  12. MRJP says:

    Balubad…. the term brings me back to childhood… these are sold in the market in the summer. We also went each summer to some neighbors’ yards and picked some when they were ready for picking. Me and my cousins would collect “balubad” shells/nuts in preparation for our summer picnics by the river or just for an adventurous day in the woods. We would bring some snack and lots of balubad nuts with us, a box of matchsticks, some papers to start a bonfire, a clean empty can of biscuit (we usually bore holes at the bottom for better roasting of the nuts) and will head to the woods or to the river to have picnic. We would make a bonfire out of woods and make an improvised stove and cook the balubads inside the empty can. They smelled really good each time. When they are almost burnt, we would cool them down and crack them open and eat them under a tree on a lazy summer day :) We always went to a far distance from the neighborhood each time we roasted cashew nuts, otherwise our neighbors will get mad at us, especially those who raised chickens because they say that it makes the chicken and other birds to catch a cold.

    Apr 13, 2007 | 8:29 am

     
  13. solraya says:

    Big AL,

    That was what I was referring to when I posted in the first thread about Kasuy.

    I will vouch for that product :)

    Apr 13, 2007 | 9:55 am

     
  14. lightheaded says:

    Your post on finding the kasoy fruit brought to mind memories when as a kid I first tasted the fruit.

    I hope you were able to try bandi, another Palawan kasoy product. It tastes better than the cashew nut brittle.

    Apr 17, 2007 | 11:40 am

     
  15. Rudy says:

    An interesting discussion about Casoy (Anacardium occidentale L.). The medical benefits from eating the roasted seeds and from using prepared sap for wart removal is also taken up.
    There is a big market for the roasted seeds in Kazahkstan. They like cashew nuts better than peanuts as a companion food while drinking.

    May 14, 2007 | 12:52 pm

     
  16. chick says:

    i like the cashew nuts we bought in antipolo before.. the plain and adobo flavored ones! :D

    Aug 16, 2007 | 2:22 pm

     
  17. crissy says:

    They call that Bandi (I think that’s the spelling), one of my favorite pasalubongs from Coron. I like the taste of cashews, and the sugar tastes more like panucha than caramelized sugar.

    Nov 6, 2007 | 2:26 pm

     
  18. maria edna t. cruz says:

    It is good to find a site that we can give comments and info as well.I came all the way from mindoro just to see whether it is possible to process nuts in palawan. My deutch friend wondered why there are only small – time processor in that place when in fact 98%of nuts supply in our country comes from palawan. You are righ maria clara, it is high time these politicians think of something more FRUITFUL than just politics.

    Mar 29, 2008 | 8:24 am

     
  19. rouan says:

    i’ve just come back home to singapore after a 3-week long trip to the philippines. i was in puerto princesa for baragatan and my goodness! the snacks are AMAZING. bastillos(?), halo-halo, polvoron, and ESPECIALLY bandi kasoy and all the other kasoy products opf palawan!!! i can’t find them anywhere in singapore, and i only have one 10php piece of bandi kasoy left. i’m saving it as long as i can but i don’t think it will last more than a week. ho ho.

    Jun 29, 2008 | 6:32 pm

     
  20. nocem says:

    yummy…

    Jul 15, 2009 | 8:42 pm

     
 

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