The Pili Nut: The Chosen One You’ve Never Heard Of
The pili nut (pronounced “peeley”) is probably the nut you’ve never heard of because pili nuts are not native to North America or Europe. Grown in Southeast Asia and primarily in the Philippines, the pili nut is often called “the chosen one” because of its nutritional value (high in magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, zinc, Vitamin B1, vitamin B6, folate, copper and 8 essential amino acids).
Shaped like an almond in the shell and a pine nut in the raw, the pili nut tastes like a creamy mild macadamia nut, although a friend says “a pili nut tastes like the offspring of a macadamia nut and a pine nut.” Like most nuts, you can do many things to it: dry, sprout, roast, mill, candy, caramelize, and even turn it into nut butter. It’s that versatile. But, like most nuts, the quality of a pili nut varies depending on where and how its grown.
The first time I tasted a pili nut was when a company in Brooklyn called Dr Cow used pili nuts in their chocolates. They made the nuts into a nut butter (almost like a ganache), added cacao, and encased the filling in dark chocolate (above, right). The chocolates were rich and scrumptious and tasted like a rich, creamy, slightly nutty flavored truffle. I had to learn more.
In the Philippines, there is an area known as Mount Mayon (pictured above) where a cooperative was formed to assist the farmers and protect the quality of the pili trees growing in the volcanic soil at the base of Mount Mayon. It is here that the company Mount Mayon Pili Nuts sources the pili nuts that are grown, hand harvested, sprouted in mineral water, slow dried, hand processed, packaged and exported throughout the world for others to enjoy.
Mount Mayon Pili Nuts also offers four other varieties of flavored pili nuts including Ecuadorian Cacao where the pili nuts are rolled in Ecuadorian cacao and organic coconut sugar; Kyoto Matcha where the pili nuts are rolled in organic kyoto matcha and organic flower sugar; Kerala Coconut Curry where the pili nuts are coated in a blend of Indian spices; and Chiang Mai Chilli Lime where the pili nuts are coated in Thai-inspired flavors (lemongrass, limes leaves, and chili).
Mount Mayon Premium Pili Nuts can be purchased from Barefoot Provisions (www.barefootprovisions.com) where 1-ounce packets are about $4-$5, 3-ounce packets are $11-$13, and 4.5-ounce canisters are $16-$17, depending on the flavor. Expensive but definitely worth it. The 1-ounce packets are great for an on-the-go snack while the 4.5 ounce canister is perfect for home use. Serve as is or sprinkle in a salad for a delicious added crunch.