Boiled Peanuts

Monday, October 6, 2008

The only peanuts I'm generally familiar with is the butter kind which I'm not a super fan of, and the roasted and salted kind of which I can put away like I'll win a prize. Still, ever since I read the book Cold Mountain (a horrible read, I say eliminate every character but Ruby and just make it Ruby is the Awesome) I was enamored with the southern recipe of boiled peanuts.

For some reason, the concept sounded so interesting. In California, you just don't have it here. We salt and boil soybeans to have with sushi. Still, why don't we use peanuts? Indigenous to the Americas, it's a shock we haven't utilized the peanut to more than just a school lunch sammich filling.

Luckily, it's peanut season in the Farmer's Market and they're cheap and readily available for your experimentation. I picked up a few pounds for a few bucks and went home to boil away. I went with a recipe I found online at CHOW which called for salt, water (duh), and for a bit of flavor a star anise. I dig Pacific Rim food so I threw in the angular and sweet spice and boiled away.

The results are easy and delicious. Earthy, meaty bits of peanut with a slightly musky resonance that sort of settles with you and imparts a sublime comfort. I enjoy a simple snacky food; salty and healthy it's a great option to keep around. I must admit, I seem to have punished the entire bowl of them, but it's a kind of guilt free indulgence.
Boiled Peanuts
2 pounds of raw peanuts
2 tablespoons of salt

1 star anise
8 cups of water

Fill a stock pot with water and add salt and anise. Bring to a boil. Add peanuts and boil for 45 minutes. Take off heat and let stand for an hour. Drain, serve warm, chilled, or freeze for later in the shell.

22 comments:

  1. funny you should mention boiled peanuts. garrett, i love your blog and in fact just referenced you in my post yesterday about prickly pears (http://cultivatingdomesticity.blogspot.com/). i also did a recent post on boiled peanuts, small world. (http://cultivatingdomesticity.blogspot.com/2008/09/boiled-peanuts.html)

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  2. Here in north Florida, boiled peanuts are in gas stations, roadside stands, and I've even seen them prepackaged somehow. They're also normally spicy hot. My dad used to come home from work with a plastic grocery bag full of these nearly-black messy and half-eaten things.

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  3. I grew up eating boiled peanuts. They were a treat when I visited family in Brazil over summer vacations. *sigh* I would kill for some here in NJ.
    In Brazil, they are made in a pressure cooker, and a native would argue that you need much more salt in your mix. HEHE. But your variation sounds good too. Thank you, Garrett.

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  4. Interesting reading previous comments of different region of US or even different country, how they have the variations of boil peanuts. I grew up in Taiwan and had boil peanuts at my disposal at all time. It's just salt and water, simple and easy. I think I need to go pick up some peanuts this Saturday at the market to make some.

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  5. Can't imagine the anise. Hmmmm....

    Grew up on b'iled goobers (Grandad's appellation...used to crack me up. Now it just sounds gross.)

    Culinary fact of life in the Deep South back in the day. Maybe still. I don't live there anymore.

    Love your blog. Great style, fascinating topics. Thank you for sharing!

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  6. boiled peanuts was a common snack sold by street vendors in Singapore, where i grew up. i thought this was exclusive to the Chinese culture, but i guess i've been mistaken, now that i've read the above comments :)

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  7. I've made these before, too. The kitchen becomes pretty steamy and salty in my experience! Yours too?

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  8. Yum. I'm going to try your recipe. In the Philippines, they boil peanuts to munch on and even have them at Filipino restaurants in San Francisco... kinda like chips with salsa before your meal. They're usually salty without spices.

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  9. Growing up, we used to have a lot of boiled peanuts for a snack. Water, loads of salt, and mom would add some turmeric powderas well. In winter, a dash of chilli powder too. They were always pressure cooked. Before you open the shell, try to suck the juices --heaven!

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  10. Years ago there was a man from the South who kept talking about boiled peanuts and how good they were. Yuk, I thought... boiled peanuts??? I tried them one day... they're great! Thanks for the reminder!

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  11. Just what I need...another reason to consume something over and over.... It's like Southern Edamame.

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  12. one of my favorite street foods growing up --yum!

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  13. Those look so gross! Hahaha I can't understand why peope love them?

    ;D

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  14. And I thought it was just a southern thing in America until I went to my Mexican sister inlaws house and she handed me a bowl. Took me a moment to get used to the texture but I can see how they could be addicting!

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  15. I have been meaning to try boiled peanuts for a while now. Can you boil them not in the shell? What is their consistency, like a boiled soybean or something completely different?

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  16. nick - They need to be in the shell. They have a consistency much like edamame. =)

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  17. I'm from California, but my family is originally from Mississippi, so boiled peanuts are a staple for us! I loved that you posted about this... it'll give me some ammo next time my husband says they're disgusting. :)

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  18. Oh boy...these used to be sold all over the place in South India where we studied as little kids! We loved them...it's been 30 years since I laid my eyes on these. WOW...thanks for igniting my senses!

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  19. Having lived in the Southeast for over 20 years, I had no idea the idea of boiled peanuts was international!!! I thought we owned it! We are in boiled peanut season right now....they are wonderful. Lots of salt and good to go!!!!

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  20. I was born and raised in Hawaii where boiled peanuts are very common. We use anise too. I suppose it came from the orient but really don't know for sure. In Hawaii, they can be gotten from roadside stands and mom and pop markets. There are also a couple of brands sold commercially in major supermarkets like Safeway where you could also buy them raw. When I grew up and traveled a bit, I found that most Americans on the west coast never heard of them. When we moved to Washington state and I asked for raw peanuts in the supermarket, they looked at me oddly. But we shop in Asian markets a lot because we can get a lot of the foods we grew up with in Hawaii and we saw raw peanuts there too. Fortunately for us, there are quite a few Asian markets here. In fact I have some in the pot right now because it's something we always have on New Year's Eve! Yum!

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  21. But sometimes peanut can cause bloating. Can you suggest what spices or additive to reduce that?

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  22. I have to agree with Anonymous... Hawaiians love Boiled peanuts!!! in fact I am making some now... graduation in Hawaii... It is a great healthier option to chips, and fried foods...for appetizers... and the Juices from the peanuts... are so ono...!!! (Hawaiian word for Delicious!!!)

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Hey, you're leaving a comment! That's pretty darn cool, so thanks. If you have any questions or have found an error on the site or with a recipe, please e-mail me and I will reply as soon as possible.
~Garrett

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