Roasting cashew nuts Esan style
In a previous blog we mentioned our prolific harvest of cashew apples, but how do you process the nuts? If you simply open and eat a raw cashew nut you will have a sore throat, and the handling of the seed coat (shell) may cause severe allergic reactions like when handling its relative poison ivy. Yesterday we asked Dokmai Garden’s Khun Densak to prepare cashew nuts for us and American-Israeli guests.
This is a raw cashew nut detached from its cashew apple (the fleshy stalk).
Khun Densak made a bed of glowing charcoal from longan twigs and then he grasped the cashew nuts one by one using a pair of tongs. He held each nut near the glow until the phenolic resin (anacardic acid) of the shells caught fire. The literature warns you about this process; since the fumes are toxic you must make sure you have good ventilation.
This is how you enjoy cashew nuts at Khun Densak’s hometown in Esan (the northeast of Thailand). In industrial situations the raw cashew nuts are first steamed, after which an automatic ‘shelling machine’ cracks the shell (seed coat), then a ‘separator’ separates kernels and shells and finally a hot air circulation oven dries the nuts.
Text & Photo: Ketsanee Seehamongkol and Eric Danell