Thai chile sauce seasoning tree

baci(z10Ca)June 5, 2004

I recently bought a tree whose leaves are used to season thai chile sauce as well as Mexican chile dishes. Does anyone know the name of the tree leaves used in these dishes?

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Do you know the name of the tree you purchased Baci?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2004 at 10:17AM
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Sorry I was not specific but the seller spoke only Spanish. I found out the name of the tree - it looks like a tamarind tree. Thanks.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2004 at 9:50AM
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If you can share the Spanish name or spell out the Spanish name in English, we can confirm.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2004 at 12:55PM
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The information I have is:
la leaina se lepaneal
chile y Remuele y se
Come en tacor en la comident

The last line probably says it is a comident. The writing is hard to read so I probably misspelled it.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2004 at 9:03AM
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Realized this was never answered... further research required.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2005 at 3:50PM
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I think the tree is a Guajes tree. The pod looks like a Guajes pod, used in Mexican cooking. It has a white flower that looks like a pom pom.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 8:32PM
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tintin002(z9 LA)

what is that THING!!!!!!!!

is it edible, if yes, what is it mainly for?

wierd but i'm interested.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2005 at 8:43PM
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TinTin002, how dare you call my tree a thing. Just kidding. The guajes is an acacia tree native to South America. I am not terribly familiar with it, & I have not yet found the botanic name of it. Guajes is the Spanish name, & Oxaca Mexico is named after these trees. I know the seeds are used in scrambled eggs in Mexican cuisine  they have a garlic/onion flavor. Apparently they are also used in mole, also. The lady who sold it to me told me the leaves were used in the Thai chile sauce, but I have as of yet to find a recipe.
There are several herbs unique to South America; some of which have been incorporated into Asian cuisine. It is a topic within itself & almost a forum within itself. I am only just beginning to familiarize myself with it.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2005 at 12:06AM
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Eggo(z10soCal LBC)

It looks like a plant I've seen before. The leaves were used as a vegetable in a curry like noodle dish. I was told it was also used for other Southeast Asian dishes too.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2005 at 2:30PM
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Thanks, Eggo. I have not found any curry recipes yet, but I am still looking. I have seen the seed pods in local Mexican markets. It looks like the seeds are ground up & used in Mexican chile recipes. The same would probably apply to Thai chile recipes.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2005 at 7:27AM
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Well, I finally got an ID on my tree. It took over a year, but thanks to Violet bringing up the post again I started working on it again. It is Leucaena leucocephala. Since this is an Asian veggie forum, others might recognize some of its other names:

English: leucaena
Spanish: guaje
Native American: huaxin
Indian: subabul
Indonesian: lamtoro
Chinese: yin hue whan
Filipino: ipilipil
Pacific Island: tangantangan

Now I can hopefully search for more recipes using the botanic or other language translations. They sell the seeds in local Hispanic markets  it might be a good one to try from seed.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2005 at 5:32PM
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patusho25(z11 Mexico)

Oh I realize that orchard here near my city is a Guaje grove, in here nobody eats it, perhaps in southern México, but down there people eats also crickets and other insects. I guess most must go to California.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2005 at 12:18AM
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That is interesting, patusho. I have seen news stories of those people that eat the insects.

The lady who sold me the tree spoke little English & wrote down its use. I think she was trying to tell me it was used as a condiment, & in some sort of chile dish. I probably messed this up, but by any chance to you know what this means?

la leaina se lepaneal
chile y Remuele y se
Come en tacor en la comident

    Bookmark   August 29, 2005 at 8:27AM
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patusho25(z11 Mexico)

BACI: After a few guesses I believe it says:

SPANISH (literally): "La vaina se le pone al chile y ambos se remuelen, y luego se le echa a los tacos como salsa picante (condimento)".

ENGLISH (literally): "Guaje´s pod and chile are grinded together and then added to tacos as a hot sauce."

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 10:30PM
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Thanks so very much, patusho  that certainly makes sense. I like cooking with different varieties of chiles, so I will experiment with the taco idea. I will try an ancho or chilaca version & then a chipotle version & see how it tastes. I have eaten the leaves in Asian soups  they have a nice flavor.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 11:11PM
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patusho25(z11 Mexico)

Baci: Woaw, you really enjoy eating chiles. Yes, I believe chilaca is not so hot but more spicy, and waychout for chipotle and habanero, they´re both very hot.

Unfortunately I have never eaten a good taco in the US, except those ones from El Gordo Tacos in Chula Vista, but even their tortilla is not that good. Good luck with your tacos. I believe Taco Bell have just added to their menu the carne asada taco, and cheesy Gordita; Oh well. lol

    Bookmark   August 31, 2005 at 12:05AM
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Thanks for the tips, Patusho. I have not tried the Gordita yet - I am going have to try it.
The US taco shells are mass produced, which affects their taste. Buying from a tortilleria helps, but they still taste better south of the border. Whenever I am in Mexico, I look & see what the food vendors are cooking so I can get recipe tips.
I get every bean & chile I can find & cook them in crock pots throughout the winter. That way I rarely have to turn on the heater. You can bring beans across the border, & the customs officials always smile when you say you are declaring beans. My favorite is the peruano. My favorite pepper is the chipotle  I remove the seeds as I can not tolerate the heat. The habanero is hot even if you remove the seeds  that one I use sparingly. I think the chilaca imparts a smooth mild flavor.
Some of these herbs incorporated into Asian cuisine have come up from South America &/or are native to Mexico. I can not find culantro in a Hispanic market, but they sell the herb & complete plant in Asian markets. Another one is Annatto. If you ever hear of a yellow Annatto, let me know. I can not find a source.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2005 at 8:52AM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

In Northern Thailand, we eat the fresh tender tips, i.e. leaves and stems and tender pods with other dishes such as noodles made Chiangmai style, or with Nam Prik Ong.

People in Central Thailand eat the tender tips and pods with other Nam Prik such as Nam Prik Kapi too. I have never seen anyone cooked this vegeatable.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2005 at 9:59PM
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Thanks for the information, pitimpinai. Giving names of dishes helps very much. I have looked up recipes for some of the dishes you described & am going to give them a try. It is a pretty fast growing tree that does well in a pot - now that I am starting to use it, it is a nice edible to have around.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2005 at 11:27PM
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In Oaxaca, Mexico, they sell pods of Guaje on the markets but when I was there (Feb-March), the seeds were the part eaten: as nibbles or added to dishes, sauces...Diana Kennedy has a very nice recipe for some Guaje (seed) patties (with cheese) in one of her books and I could look for it if you are interested. Meanwhile , here is a recipe for Guaje sauce.

Guaje Sauce


10 serrano chiles
1 bunch guajes
1/4 onion


Roast the chiles.

Blend the onion in a molcajete
together with a little salt
and water then add the chiles
and guajes and mash roughly.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 5:55PM
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Gee, Solanum, you sure do get around. I have heard the seeds can be roasted & eaten like pumpkin seeds. Thanks very much for the recipe for the guaje sauce. The Serrano will make a spicy dish, & roasting should impart a nice flavor. There is a store near me that sells the plastic & cast iron molcajete so maybe I will get one.
Sure I would be interested in the guaje seed pattie recipe.
By the way, have you ever tried tamales with the hoya santa leaves? I got a plant today & the man who sold it to me said the leaves are used to make tamale wraps in Mexico. I like making them with banana leaves, so using them will be a new experience.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 11:13PM
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Here is the recipe for the Guaje patties:

Guaje Fritters in Tomato Sauce -Tortitas de Guajes en Salsa de Jitomate

The Sauce:
1 small slice white onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 cup (63ml) water
10 oz (285g) tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2-3 cups (500-750ml) water or chicken broth
salt to taste

The Fritters:
1 cup raw green guaje beans
1/4 medium small onion, finely chopped
2 1/2 oz (75g) queso anejo or Romano, finely grated
3 eggs, well beaten
salt to taste
vegetable oil for frying

Blend together the onion, garlic and cumin with the water until smooth. Add the tomatoes a few at a time and blend until smooth. Heat the oil in a heavy pan, add the sauce and fry until reduced and seasoned - about 8 min. Add the water or chicken broth and salt and cook for 5 more minutes. Keep warm while you prepare the fritters.
Put the guajes into a bowl, stir in the onion, cheese and eggs - salt only if necessary, depending on the strength of the cheese. Heat the oil in a skillet - it should be about 1/2 " deep - and fry large spoonfuls of the mixture over high heat until golden brown on both sides. Drain well. Add the fritters to the warm sauce and cook over low heat, turning them over once, until the guajes are cooked inside - about 30 min.

For the Hoja santa, I tried a recipe for Tamales wrapped in Hoja santa leaves but found that their taste is too overpowering but I really enjoyed fish cooked in the leaves. Also Hoja santa is wonderful when added to a Mole Verde sauce. But I think my favourite use for them is in:

Sopa de Ajo (Garlic Soup)

Garlic Soup with Hoja Santa

2 Tsp oil
90g garlic (about 30 cloves)
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
6 cups chicken stock
3 bay leaves
celery leaves, chopped
1 large Hoja Santa leaf cut into strips
2 eggs
Masa for thickening

Warm chicken stock, add bay leaves and celery leaves. Fry garlic cloves until golden, about 8 min. Transfer garlic to a blender, reserving the oil. Puree with the water and set aside. Brown the breadcrumbs in the oil. Add breadcrumbs and pureed garlic to the stock. Fry Hoja Santa for 30 seconds and add to the rest. Simmer for 30 min. Beat the eggs and pour in the stock, stirring constantly. Add diluted masa for thickening if needed.


    Bookmark   September 5, 2005 at 5:55PM
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Thanks for the recipes, Rose Marie. I have copied them & look forward to trying them. The ingredients are pretty easy & add some nice new flavors.
Evidentially the Hoja Santa is also called Yerba Santa. It is in a different family of the CA Yerba Santa varieties & looks different, but it sure smells like Yerba Santa. It might go with some of the meat tamales, but I did not think it would go with the masa-based ones. I think I will stick with my banana or corn leaves for the tamales & go with your soup.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2005 at 7:43AM
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Excellent thread!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2006 at 10:03AM
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Hi Violet. ItÂs good to see you back. You keep this forum going  it has been slow without you. My tree is still alive  a bit spindly but doing OK. It is a good zone 10 plant that does OK pots.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2006 at 5:05AM
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Aw... Great to hear baci! If it's in a pot, you might want to get some fertilizer like miricle grow or other, dilute to half of recommended solution and feed regularly. If you're not doing this already, this should help. ;)

    Bookmark   April 1, 2006 at 7:59AM
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