February 26 is National Pistachio Day! Pistachios have been around since the pre-Biblical times, but first started being cultivated here in the U.S., namely in California, in the early 1900s. Though they've been around for a while, they are seeing a resurgence in popularity on today's menus, being featured in everything from fresh pestos at Farmshop to decadent Italian desserts at Torrisi Italian Specialties.
Over at David Myers' new restaurant Hinoki & the Bird in Los Angeles, executive chef Kuniko Yagi uses pistachios in several dishes, including Hinoki-scented black cod with sweet potato and pistachio and the Meyer lemon shaved ice with pink lady apples, Greek yogurt and pistachios.
“There are so many health benefits, providing a great source of fiber and vitamin B, Yagi told TODAY.com. “I also really love them because they are so much cheaper here than in Japan. Every time I visit my mother in Japan, she asks me to bring her some.”
Yagi shared her recipe for spice-scented pistachios, which are served at Hinoki & the Bird as a bar snack, with us in honor of National Pistachio Day. They'd also make an excellent addition to any get-together.
- 1 cup shelled pistachios (or nuts of your choice)
- 1 cups simple syrup
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- A pinch of cayenne pepper
- A pinch of smoked paprika
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 3 cups grape seed oil
- Coarse sea salt, to taste
Bring the simple syrup to a boil. Meanwhile, mix the garam masala, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika and kosher salt together in a bowl and set aside. Add nuts to boiling simple syrup and blanch for about five minutes. Remove nuts using a slotted spoon and place into a colander or mesh cooling rack to drain. In a heavy pot, bring the oil to 350 degrees, then add nuts and fry for about 10 minutes. Immediately transfer nuts into the bowl with spice mix and toss. Add coarse sea salt to taste and serve.