This recipe is coming from my hammock on a small Thai island in the Andaman Sea, close to Burma.
It’s the place for an ultimate chill out. No roads, no retail therapy, no stress unless you have trouble deciding what to eat next. We have a simple hut on the beach made from woven bamboo, there’s a bed with large mosquito net, a bathroom with a toilet, a cold shower and a bucket for flushing the loo and best of all a deck with two hammocks which saves fighting over who gets to swing in the breeze.
The family that owns our hut look after everything. They get up early and sweep the leaves from the paths and the beach. they make delicious home cooked food any time you ask them and the pineapple shakes they make are to die for.
It’s surprising how quickly the days drift away between swimming in the sea and wandering about the island.
Most of the island is covered in dense jungle or patches of rubber palms and cashew nut trees. To get a cashew nut from the tree to our plates is quite something, The cashew nuts grow under the fruit, it’s known as an apple but looks more like a pear and the nut is dangerously inedible in its raw state.
The fruit can be eaten or made into smoothies or booze but the nuts need a serious roasting before they can be eaten. The nut in the shell is surrounded by a caustic liquid that would burn the top of your mouth off if eaten raw. The roasting has to take place outside as the fumes are toxic, it’s quite palaver so when you consider there’s only one nut on the bottom of each fruit, the price of a packet of cashews seems quite fair.
As you might imagine the cashew nuts are delicious and feature on every menu. You can have salad with cashew nuts, prawns with cashew nuts, stir fried veg with cashew nuts, the list is endless. We had grilled barracuda with ‘green apple sauce’ the other night. It sounded quite a bizarre combo so of course we had to try. It was julienned Granny Smiths with a little carrot, chilli, garlic and cashew nuts, all dressed with lime juice and nam pla. Stunning!
Here’s a recipe for a sweet and sour carrot salad – with cashew nuts. We went for a ‘day out’ to another area of the island and ate this for lunch.
I thought it was delicious and as usual we puzzled over what could be in it when we found the recipe in May Kaidees Thai Vegetarian Cookbook sitting on the table right front of us. Here’s my translation
Sweet and Sour Carrot Salad
2 tbs shredded coconut, soaked in cold water for 2 hours
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
75g cashew nuts
1 tbs sesame seeds
2tbs soya sauce -not dark
juice 1 lime
1 tomato- diced into big chunks
2-3 carrots, peeled and grated
Drain the shredded coconut.
Put the coconut, 25g of the cashews and the garlic in a mortar and pestle and mash together to make a rough paste. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle pulse buzz in a food processor and keep scraping it down
Crumble the tofu with your hands
Toast the other 50g of cashews gently in a dry pan, put them aside then toast the sesame seeds until lightly golden.
Put the carrots into a large bowl and mix together with the coconut/cashew paste then add the chopped tomato, sesame seeds, crumbled tofu, lime juice and soya sauce. Toss everything together
Pile the salad on a plate and scatter the toasted cashew nuts on top
I think I’d be very tempted to put a chopped chilli or two in as well!!