At work, we make this pistachio and chocolate parfait that sounds better than it really is. I had a horrendous experience just 2 days back trying to portion it as it wilted under the summer heat in my tiny kitchen. But that’s another story.

So this pistachio and choc thing is really 2 parfaits in one. One level is chocolate mixed with a sabayon and then whipped cream. The other is pistachio essence sabayon and then a whipped cream.

A customer comes over to the pass and asks me, “Can you tell me how you make the pistachio thing?”. I hesitate because the word essence tends to conjure vile imagery of fake flavor although that was sort of what we used to make the thing anyway, a compound reduction of pistachio paste. My colleague looked at me as if to echo the very same things running through my head. I settled on using pistachio paste as a pc-fied rendition of the ingredient although the customer was simply delighted to hear it. I also justified its usage because using real nuts would obviously result in a graininess that’s probably less palatable.

I abhor pistachio paste though. It stinks and if I see some bright green colored thing, I would not touch it, barge pole or otherwise.

One trip to Gelato Messina in Darlinghurst though, I had a good pistachio ice cream. What intrigued me was that it wasn’t bright green but pale greeny beige/brown. Taste wise, it had none of the essence/paste flavor and all that you’d expect from a pistachio. The only pity is that pistachios tend to have a rather mild, gentle flavor, which was tremendously diminished in the gelato.

Last week though, I chanced upon raw pistachios at my local grocer, who tends to bring in very interesting, seasonal products from time to time. Like just today, there was Sapote, fresh Durians, Jujubes amongst 4 varieties of plums and all your typical produce. The pistachios are since long gone from the shelf but I was so entranced by their appearance that I just had to grab a handful for 2 or 3 bucks.

There’s 3 parts to the nut. There’s an outer skin which is soft and I have to break it away to reveal the hard shell below it. This outer skin you never see when you buy roasted pistachios. It’s colored pink and red and green and beige and smells like mango rind or flowers. I absolutely love the smell. It’s amazing.

Then there’s the shell, which is translucent, unlike the roasted version which is opaque. Inside, the nut itself is the same pink/green/beige combo. Taste wise, it has a light crunch and isn’t really too faraway from roasted pistachios. The flavor’s much gentler and you don’t get that roasted profile obviously but I think you get a lot more that you don’t normally get. There’s a certain floral/herbaceous note and a much more delicate structure to the flavor.

I have to say, I love pistachios. But I prefer all the more the raw ones. I would use them as is, in a light, fresh salad, maybe with like figs and bocconcini or try to somehow infuse the more delicate aspects of it into a panna cotta or somesuch. Probably mangoes. So maybe like a pacotized raw pistachio panna cotta with mangoes.

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