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What to do With Cashews — a Cooling Noodle Dessert

By Bianca Husodo

 
Gregory Woo
 

It was a rather unusual Monday dusk. Fara Yakub, the head pastry chef of Middle Eastern bar-restaurant Fat Prince, was scooping ladles of red broth and pouring them into paper containers of noodles, while nearby, a barbecue grill was sizzling the last of its woody smoke. Earlier, several other cooks were busy fanning strips of chicken on the grill, which were then skewered into shish kebabs. The barbecue feast was to showcase some of Fat Prince’s new seasonal dishes, but was, in fact, held far away from the hip Tanjong Pagar district the joint was situated in. Instead, the group of cooks and invited patrons were sheltered right by the sprawling organic farm of Quan Fa in Choa Chu Kang.

In charge of dessert, Fara had prepared a light and zesty finish to round off the meaty feast: a noodle dish, made of the milk of crushed cashew nuts. “We use a lot of cashews on a daily basis in our kitchen. There’s the cashew hummus, and some of the nuts that we use for the kebabs are also cashews,” says the pastry chef. “So I thought, why not try making something out of it for dessert as well?”

The 31-year-old, whose past stints include the likes of now-shuttered Portuguese restaurant Boca and contemporary French fine dining eatery Saint Pierre, has always been interested in the fusing of non-native flavours and indigenous tropes. Her cashew milk noodle creation, she says, sits at a juncture between the Turkish flavours she whips up at Fat Prince and a popular Singaporean dish: the mee rebus. Hence the soupy consommé the noodles were dipped in.

For the consommé, Fara blended citrus-zinged watermelon with a hint of sumac, a sour spice made of dried Middle Eastern bush berries. She suggests sourcing it from Mustafa Centre. Alternatively, squeezing in extra lemon juice works, too. The fruity zing balances the milky dryness of the cashew-based noodles. And as did the other chefs, Fara was given free reins to forage produce from the farm to fuse into her dish. She opted for mint leaves and edible flowers as its shambolic garnishes.

So how best to enjoy it? “Just like the casual farm trip, I picture people just digging in, sharing it from a huge plate as you would of biryani,” shares the pastry chef. “I think this makes for a cooling communal dessert.” 

Here, chef Fara Yakub recreates and shares the four-part recipe of her cashew milk noodle dessert.

Tung PhamSingaporean pastry chef Fara Yakub has helmed the dessert canon of Middle Eastern restaurant-bar Fat Prince for almost three years.
Singaporean pastry chef Fara Yakub has helmed the dessert canon of Middle Eastern restaurant-bar Fat Prince for almost three years.
Tung PhamFara’s cashew milk noodle dessert.
Fara’s cashew milk noodle dessert.

Cashew Milk Noodle Dessert

Serves 5–6 pax

Part I: Cashew Milk

Ingredients

100 grams Cashews
300 grams Boiling Water 

Method

1. Pour boiling water onto cashews and cover.
2. Allow cashews to steep for at least an hour. 
3. Blend the cashews with 150 grams of the water. 
4. Strain to remove any chunks.

Tung PhamSoaking the cashews in hot water softens the nuts’ texture prior to blending.
Soaking the cashews in hot water softens the nuts’ texture prior to blending.
Tung PhamFara pours the softened cashews into the blender.
Fara pours the softened cashews into the blender.
Tung PhamThe cashews are blended into smooth, thick cashew milk.
The cashews are blended into smooth, thick cashew milk.

Part II: Cashew Noodles

Ingredients

155 grams Cashew Milk
155 grams Cream
100 grams Water
60 grams Brown Sugar
6 grams Agar Powder
6 grams Konnyaku Jelly Powder

Method

1. Add all ingredients into a pot and bring to boil. When the mixture coagulates, stir and blend.

Tung PhamFara mixes the cashew milk with the rest of the noodle ingredients in a pot.
Fara mixes the cashew milk with the rest of the noodle ingredients in a pot.
Tung PhamWhenever the mixture coagulates, gently stir and disperse with a whisk.
Whenever the mixture coagulates, gently stir and disperse with a whisk.

2. Pass the mixture through a sieve and pour onto a flat tray lined with cling film.
3. Spread the mixture evenly.
4. Allow to cool in a fridge for 15 minutes.
5. Remove the cling film and cut it into long strips of noodles.

Tung PhamUsing a flat spatula, spread the mixture evenly on a flat tray covered with cling wrap.
Using a flat spatula, spread the mixture evenly on a flat tray covered with cling wrap.
Tung PhamThinly slice the cashew milk jelly, allowing more or less 0.5 centimetre of width for each noodle strand.
Thinly slice the cashew milk jelly, allowing more or less 0.5 centimetre of width for each noodle strand.

Part III: Watermelon and Sumac Consommé

Ingredients

500 grams Watermelon
10 grams Lemon Juice
7 grams Sumac (alternatively, it can be replaced with more lemon juice)
6 grams Pectin Powder
Brown Sugar (as needed, depending on the sweetness of the watermelon) 

Method

1. Blend watermelon until smooth.
2. Add 300 grams of watermelon juice, brown sugar if needed, pectin powder and sumac and bring to boil. 
3. Set aside for 10 minutes. 

Tung PhamFara blends the watermelons.
Fara blends the watermelons.
Tung PhamStrain the juice from watermelon residue.
Strain the juice from watermelon residue.

4. Double strain mixture to remove any fibres. 
5. Add in the lemon juice and cool the mixture in the chiller.

Tung PhamWhile heating the mixture, mix it with a whisk or hand blender.
While heating the mixture, mix it with a whisk or hand blender.
Tung PhamLemon juice makes for an alternative of sumac, which can be rarely found in the average supermarket in Singapore.
Lemon juice makes for an alternative of sumac, which can be rarely found in the average supermarket in Singapore.

Part IV: Final Assembling

1. Assemble the noodles with fruits, berries, micro herbs (chef Fara uses mint and edible flowers like marigold).
2. Serve cashew noodles with the watermelon and sumac consommé. 

Tung PhamAfter assembling the noodle with the preferred toppings, pour in the chilled watermelon and sumac consommé.
After assembling the noodle with the preferred toppings, pour in the chilled watermelon and sumac consommé.
Tung PhamFara peppers her dessert with marigold petals, blueberries and strawberries.
Fara peppers her dessert with marigold petals, blueberries and strawberries.
Visit chef Fara Yakub at Fat Prince, 48 Peck Seah Street, #01-01.