Thursday, October 25, 2012

Smoked Cashew Salsa

I may have been disappointed by my recent dinner at Empellón Cocina, but it wasn't all bad. Quite to the contrary, there were quite a few things that I really liked about the restaurant.

Perhaps our favorite dish was the smoked cashew salsa served with masa crisps. Chef Alex Stupak graciously shares many of his recipes on his restaurant's blog, including the Smoked Cashew Salsa (which was also handed to us on a card with the check).

Stupak's original recipe calls for smoking the cashews yourself. If you have the equipment and wherewithal, by all means go for it. But, lacking an effective means of smoking nuts, I went with store-bought smoked cashews. They weren't easy to find; in fact, I couldn't find any at my usual grocery stores or even from Amazon. As luck would have it, I came across some at Fred Meyer, an Oregon chain of grocery and discount department stores.

As written, the recipe calls for chipotle chili peppers, which I didn't have on hand, so I substituted a teaspoon of chili powder. This makes the dish significantly less spicy, but will work in a pinch. After combining the nuts and water in the portions the recipe calls for, I thought it wasn't thick enough, so I threw in the rest of the nuts. Additionally, since the store-bought nuts were already salted, I added no additional salt. If you smoke unsalted nuts, you'll probably want some salt.

Smoked Cashew Salsa
Adapted from a recipe by Alex Stupak for Empellón Cocina

8 oz. smoked, salted cashews
1 cup water
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. chili powder (or more if you want it hotter or substitute chipotle chili powder or a whole chopped chipotle pepper)

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth. Serve with tortilla chips or cut vegetables.


  1. This was good but I wonder if there might be a way to thicken it next time?

  2. You could reduce the amount of water. Although you might think it would be better thicker, that would make it nuttier, and perhaps too rich. So I actually like that it was a somewhat thinner than expected.