October 2, 2006

Peanut envy

Filed under: In season,Los Angeles,Orange County,Recipes — Professor Salt @ 12:56 pm

Long before industrial snack foods and convenience stores were imagined, boiled peanuts fed the car driving public’s craving for salty snacks. Throughout the American South, roadside vendors set up high BTU propane burners and kettles at gas stations, fruit stands, and empty lots to serve locally grown peanuts in a style as old as the dirt they grew in.

Raw peanuts
Thanks to an influx of Southeast Asian farmers, Californians with a Dixie heritage can fill their cravings for an absent favorite. Peanuts feature prominently in cuisines influenced by the Chinese diaspora, so inquire among the Hmong, Vietnamese, and Thai specialty growers at your local L.A. area farmers market.

Raw, or “green” peanuts, still moist from the damp earth in which it grew, more closely resemble pod beans than tree nuts. Botanically speaking, they are legumes. As these freshly harvested peanuts dry, they harden and take on a more nut like character. Boiled peanuts don’t have the crunch you’d expect from the dry roasted variety, but a wet, briny, bean like texture, more like edamame’s country cousin.

The local season lasts through the end of December.

Basic Boiled Peanuts

1 pound green, or raw, peanuts
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a pot, and bring to a boil. You can adjust the brine strength to your preference, but a long boil will increase the salt concentration.
Reduce heat, and cover with a lid cracked opened slightly.
Gently simmer for an hour and a half, stirring occasionally so the peanuts don’t stick to the bottom and burn.

9 Responses to “Peanut envy”

  1. Brian Says:

    Oh No, Not peanuts, the fastest growing allergy food in the world! During the past 5 years more people have started severe allergys to peanuts due to the way they are processed for oil (in the past they were boiled, but now more are cold pressed and the deadly protein stays). More schools are forbidding nuts on campus.

  2. Chubbypanda Says:

    These are such a stable of Taiwanese rural living. Thanks for the memories, prof!

    - CP

  3. elmomonster Says:

    What a coincidence…I was happily munching boiled peanuts last week at a Filipino party. It brought me back to my childhood in Indonesia, where peanuts were also enjoyed in this rudimentary fashion.

  4. MEalcentric Says:

    Are they selling green peanuts at the UCI farmers market? I used to munch on these every morning when I was in thailand and would love to make my own batch at home.

  5. Professor Salt Says:

    I was thinking that this post wasn’t gonna strike a chord out there; I’m happily proven wrong yet again.

    Brian, I was thinking about you when I wrote this, knowing how careful you have to be with everything you guys eat. Hope that Andrew’s reactions mitigate over time.

    MC: Yup, there’s two vendors at UCI with peanuts. I shot the photo at the vendor in the corner closest to Lee’s Sandwiches.

  6. doctom Says:

    Ahhh, boiled peanuts! Haven’t had those since our honeymoon in Hawai’i years ago — a little store we stopped in had them in plastic bags. I’ll have to check out the farmer’s markets. Thanks for the tip, Prof! (And by the way, I loved your “country cousin” description of boiled peanuts, perfectly evocative for me….)

  7. Ed Says:

    Mmm – boiled peanuts. Didn’t like them as a child, but now I really enjoy their briny goodness.

    And elmomonster, imagine the surprise of my Balinese friends upon seeing a “non-American-looking” American (“You must be from Malaysia – or Japan, right?”) eating boiled peanuts, ikan teri/bilis (dried, salted anchovies), and pindang (smoked fish) along with huge mounds of rice!

  8. Bill Farrell Says:

    I tend to use more water, a lot more salt and boil them for an hour or longer. Then I let them rest in the brine until the water is lukewarm. Finally, I serve them chilled after a few hours in the refrigerator. They take a while to prepare but they go fast!

    Boiled peanuts! My favorite.

  9. Jonathan Says:

    Boiled Peanuts are grand… but even better… spicy boiled peanuts.

    here’s a great link: http://www.windlegends.org/goobers.htm

    Boiling them in Moonshine… oh yah. And people people… always eat and serve them warm!

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