My local produce manager and I enjoy a friendly competition of sorts whenever we face a new food. While she possesses a (vastly) wider range of knowledge about fruits and vegetables than I do, I own the larger (and more creative) arsenal of cooking ideas and combinations.
Yesterday I knew something was up when I heard her giggling behind the mango display. Before I could come closer, Ms. Manager pounced around the table and shoved a cellophane bag toward me.
The top of the bag held no identifying information because my dear friend, the self-proclaimed Produce Queen, had ripped the label off. Ms. Manager commanded, “Don’t come any closer. I don’t want you to see the back of this display. Go home and figure out what to do with these babies.”
I took them home and put them in a bowl. See:
I studied them, made a few calls, did some research and figured out their identity. These are palm nuts. They grow on the Coquito Palm of Chile, South America. The palm sap was popular as a palm honey and a palm wine since each trees average yield was about 90 gallons. Since the extraction of the sap causes the death of the tree, the Chilean government now protects these trees. The fruit is also edible as is the nut.
This brown coquito nut, also called cockernut, looks like a miniature coconut. It is about ½” to ¾” in diameter and has the same white meat texture on the inside. These are quite crunchy (so good teeth are essential if you decide to bite into one) and the flavor is very similar to coconut with an almond-like sweetness.
Now I need to figure out how to use them. They can, apparently, be softened by allowing them to sit in boiling water for approximately 20 minutes but I have no idea what to do with them after that. So far, I decided I could coat them with chocolate but that’s about all I have devised. Anyone have any ideas?