Sunday, July 14, 2013

Making Chinese Peanuts

This is one of my favorite recipes that my Chinese in-laws make. It's a great snack and they are so fun to eat with chopsticks. They are salty, flavorful and crunchy, but not in the way that we're used to in America, where we eat our peanuts dry-roasted. They are moist, and perhaps more like a vegetable than a nut. Think edamame (soybeans), if you've ever had those. To get the ingredients you will need to go to an Asian supermarket. You can find the peanuts there; they are shelled and raw (not roasted or salted). These are 12 oz bags and I used one for this recipe.

You'll need a 12 oz package of raw shelled peanuts.

Then you'll need some wonderful exotic spices. 

Talk about fragrant! Red peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, and star anise.

The star anise is so pretty; it looks like stars. 

Star anise.

Then there's  fresh ginger. You only need a tiny bit of ginger, so buy a small knob of it, and maybe have another recipe ready to use it in so it isn't wasted.

Fresh ginger.

Put the peanuts in a saucepan and add enough water to cover them. Then add two slices of ginger and 2 anise stars. For the red peppercorns, I use a half-teaspoon size measuring spoon as a scooper and scoop out a rounded spoonful of peppercorns and throw them in the pot. Then you'll need a tiny piece of cinnamon bark. These are the size pieces I'm talking about:

Tiny bits of cinnamon bark.

One or two of these is enough. A little goes a long way. Now everything's in the pot. Bring it to a boil. I put the lid on but leave a gap to let steam out, and cook it for 20 minutes on medium-high.

After 20 minutes, turn off the stove and add a tablespoon of salt (or more or less, depending how salty you like things) and let the peanuts soak for at least a half-hour. When they are done soaking, we eat them warm immediately, and the leftover peanuts we eat cold from the fridge. Scoop them out of their broth and into a bowl, and be careful not to eat the anise, peppercorn, ginger, or cinnamon bits (warn the kids). These peanuts are best eaten with chopsticks, which just makes it more fun! Yummy!

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