Ginkgo Nuts: A Stinking Delicious Treat

One sniff of a ginkgo fruit might instantly turn you off from ever eating it. Its scent has been described as akin to dog poo, vomit, or garbage. But one taste and you may just change your mind.

What Do Gingko Nuts Taste Like?

Cooked ginkgo nuts have a rich nutty flavor and are sweet with a pleasant bitter undertone. Their flavor has been described as similar to pine nuts, while their texture is reminiscent of roasted chestnut consisting of smooth waxy softness with a chewy bounce.

Where to Buy Ginkgo Nuts?

Image credit: Flickr user matsuyuki ( CC BY-SA 2.0 )

If you happen to pass by a ginkgo tree, you can harvest the fallen ginkgo fruits for the ginkgo nuts inside. Remember to use gloves when picking them up as they contain urushiol, the same itchy substance that’s in poison ivy.

To prepare them, soak the fruit in water for around an hour to easily separate the nut from the pulp. If you’re harvesting the ginkgo around winter, you can also crush the fruit to instantly reveal the nut. Wash them thoroughly, then lay them out in the sun to dry before cooking or speed up the process by using an oven.

You can also buy ginkgo nuts already washed and dried from the Asian market as well as pre-cooked canned ones.

Image credit: Flickr user matsuyuki ( CC BY-SA 2.0 )

Cooking with Ginkgo Nuts?

However you decide to enjoy your ginkgo nuts, never try to eat them raw or with the fruit pulp still attached as they are toxic in this state. And delicious as they may be, you’ll want to pace yourself – even cooked ginkgo nuts can be toxic in high amounts.

Image credit: Flickr user Joel Abroad ( CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

In Japan, roasted ginkgo nuts are popularly enjoyed as a bar snack. Heat them up in an oven or on a cast iron pan with a drizzle of oil until the shells split. Then, sprinkle with a generous amount of salt, crack open, and enjoy.

Boiled ginkgo nuts are also a popular addition to chawanmushi, a savory Japanese egg custard, or in Chinese soups, typically with barley and tofu. They add a nice bite and rich nutty flavor to each spoonful.

Feature Image: Flickr user masaya.yamauchiCC BY 2.0 )

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