Even fans of seeds and nuts will hardly have heard of Moluccan nuts. These are the seeds of a tree of the Euforbiaceae family, Aleurites moluccanus, which as the name suggests is native to the Moluccas, a group of Indonesian islands located between the island of Sulawesi and New Guinea.
Nowadays it is planted in many parts of the world for the purpose of extracting oil from its nuts, also called kukui oil, considered an excellent emollient and present as the basis of many beauty products for the skin.
It is also indicated for protect and strengthen hair and to protect and nourish children's skin. In English these nuts are called candlenut, or candle nuts, since so much rich in oil to be flammable and serve for a while as candles or tealights.
The Moluccan nut
The fruit of the Moluccan nut tree is spherical, 4 to 6 centimeters in diameter, with a particularly hard shell, with colors ranging from green to brown. Inside the shell we find some whitish pulp, inedible, and hidden in the pulp we find a walnut, which can contain from 1 to 3 seeds.
I seeds are whitish or cream colored reminiscent of the pulp of chestnuts, with a whitish and floury patina around. At the sight they can remember chickpeas. Local consumption is focused on the Indonesian islands, Malaysia, the Philippines, and the Pacific islands up to Hawaii. The flavor is reminiscent of sunflower seeds, even if it is more persistent and mellow.
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What do we find in the nuts of the Moluccas?
Like many other types of nuts and seeds, Moluccan nuts are high in calories and unsaturated fats, but they are also rich in proteins and mineral salts, especially phosphorus, potassium and magnesium, but we also find in them trace elements generally more difficult to find in various foods: in fact there are copper, zinc and others metals.
As far as vitamins are concerned, the Moluccan nuts are to be considered a good source of B vitamins. The consumption of Moluccan nuts rebalances intestinal activity: if on the one hand it is capable of counteract diarrhea, on the other hand it acts as a laxative in case of constipation.
The use that local populations make of it is also reported fight some forms of candidiasis and arthritis. Moluccan nuts, thanks to the richness of oils, have antibacterial properties.
Moluccan nuts in recipes
While not as sweet as other types of nuts, perhaps more palatable, Moluccan nuts are an ingredient of some Asian and Pacific cuisines.
In addition to being dried, they come roasted or toasted and salted, as is done for cashews and peanuts, or are transformed into a buttery sauce, as is done with sesame seeds or peanuts, especially in Javanese or Hawaiian cuisine: L'inamona or Moluccan nut cream è in fact a very common condiment in Hawaii.
They are also added as a typical ingredient in many Indonesian sauces, sambal, in spicy noodle dishes, replacing the famous peanut grains that we find in Thai dishes, with chicken and fish with lemongrass.
Moluccan nuts are not consumed naturally due to the high saponin content.
Where to find the Moluccan nuts
There aren't many Indonesian or Australasian communities in the country, but we have numerous native residents of the Philippines e we can find packaged Moluccan nuts in transparent bags where Filipino friends stock up to buy ethnic food.
In northern Europe, especially in the Netherlands, France and England which historically have a strong link with Indochina, the Australasian islands and those of the Pacific Ocean, finding these nuts is much more common.
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