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Almonds in Moroccan Cuisine
Moroccan cuisine makes good use of its indigenous almonds. Some Moroccan specialties call for raw almonds with skin such as those shown above–Moroccan fekkas cookies and amlou, an almond and argan oil dip, are two examples–but quite often the almonds must be blanched, peeled and perhaps even fried. The following steps show how to do that.Continue to 2 of 6 below.
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Blanch the Almonds
You can often find blanched almonds for sale in grocery stores, but you'll save money doing it yourself. It's easy!
Bring some water to a boil then slide the almonds carefully into the pot, taking care to avoid splashing yourself. Allow the water to return to a boil just for a minute or so and then remove from the heat. If you leave the almonds longer they'll become soggy.
Immediately drain the almonds in a colander.Continue to 3 of 6 below.
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Peel the Almonds
The almonds are easiest to peel while still warm. Skin them by squeezing or rubbing individual almonds between your thumb and forefinger–the almonds should pop right out of the skin.Continue to 4 of 6 below.
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Tips for Blanching and Peeling Almonds
A few tips might make peeling almonds an easier task:
- If you accidentally send almonds flying around the kitchen, try pinching the almonds directly into a cupped hand or into a deep bowl.
- The almonds will be harder to peel if they cool because the skin will dry out and adhere to the almond. If this happens, massage the almond for a few seconds to help loosen the skin or return the almonds to a pot of boiling water for a half minute or so.
- If blanching a large number of almonds, work with them in batches to avoid having them cool before you can peel them. Or, recruit a few family members to gather round and make short work of your pile.
Leave the skinned almonds to dry in a single layer on a towel. On a warm day, this won't take very long, but in cooler weather, it could take several hours.
Once dry, the blanched almonds are ready to be stored in the fridge or used in recipes. If you also need to fry the almonds, see how to do this in the next step.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Fry the Almonds
Be sure your blanched almonds are completely dry before frying.
To fry blanched almonds, heat enough vegetable oil to cover the almonds in a frying pan or pot. Do this slowly over medium-low to medium heat.
Test the oil by dropping in a single almond. If tiny bubbles rise around the almond within a few seconds, the oil is ready. If the oil boils and splatters immediately, it's too hot and will need to cool for a few minutes before proceeding.
Carefully add the almonds to the oil, in batches if necessary, making sure that they're all fully submerged. Fry the almonds, stirring constantly, until golden brown. Small batches should take at least several minutes, but larger batches might take 7 minutes or longer.
As soon as the almonds are colored, transfer them to a tray lined with paper towels to drain and cool. Fried almonds will continue to darken a bit after frying, so be careful not to burn them while they're in the oil. I try to remove them when light golden as they'll deepen to a medium golden outside of the pot.Continue to 6 of 6 below.
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How Fried Almonds Are Used in Moroccan Cooking
Quite often, fried almonds serve as a garnish to sweet and savory entrees such as the holiday lamb dish, Mrouzia, shown above. Other Moroccan dishes which call for fried almonds as a key ingredient or garnish include: