What I do with extra time on my hands.
I knew they were peanuts when I bought them. It wasn’t until I popped a handful in my mouth that I second guessed myself. I had to text Lillian a photo of the Chinese label to make sure they weren’t some kind of bean. (Actually, I found out peanuts are types of legumes, not nuts at all.) Now, does that mean I should boil them? My mom pointed out that southern girls should know how to boil peanuts, but I’m not a southern gal.
The hardest thing about cooking Chinese food is figuring out how to cook it. I know that sounds stupid, but try buying everything without English signs or labels. You have to depend on knowing what food is supposed to look like, (shallots look like large green onions, pig feet look unsurprisingly like pig feet). But my first several trips to the Chinese supermarkets were spent gawking at the endless rows of pickled somethings and picking up mutant-like fruit.
Things like nuts are cheaper, of course, when they are raw and still in shells so that’s the popular way to buy them. I’ve learned it’s totally acceptable to help yourself to a sample (this goes for the bins of nuts, mostly, so don’t try this at the bakery).
I called my favorite foodies who tell me to cook them like beans—”boil ’em goobers in a big pot with some seas’nin.” No, my parents don’t sound like that, yet. I had to decide how to season my goobers and I stumbled across a Chinese recipe for braised peanuts. I didn’t follow it religiously because that’s boring…but mine is pretty damn close.
Here’s what mine turned out like. The star-shaped thing is star anise. It smells like Indian food! Yum. Now, I just have to let them dry.
And here’s my recipe, if you’re interested. (I never measure anything if I don’t have to, so if you want detailed measurements, maybe this isn’t the best recipe for you).
1. Let the peanuts soak in water for 2-4 hours. Drain the water.
2. Pour raw peanuts into a large pot and cover with water. (Another recipe I read said to cover them with two inches of water, but I had to keep adding more because it evaporated quickly.) Bring to boil.
3. Add onion (I used green), chopped garlic, ginger, star anise, soy sauce, a little salt and pepper, and my new favorite flavoring: baijiu (in the photo below. This particular baijiu tastes like rancid cough syrup, but it’s an amazing ingredient for sauces.)
5. Drain the peanut juice and spread out the peanuts to dry on whatever you have. I used paper towels and a couple plates. I’m letting mine dry over night, so they should be ready by tomorrow!