I had some interesting conversations about all things pea-nutty; topics covering the research, cultivation, nutrition, history and overall plain goodness of the peanut.
And then Matt and Ted Lee presented me with an autographed copy of their book, The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook. These guys know from boiled peanuts. Homesick in New York City, they started boiling peanuts in their apartment, then tried to get fancy food stores and restaurants to buy them. It took a while for the idea to catch on, but you have to credit their talent and cleverness. They’re now award-winning food writers and proprietors of a mail-order company that supplies all manner of Southern foods and condiments, including boiled peanuts, of course.
I came across fresh, raw peanuts at Global Foods Market, my fabulous ethnic foods emporium, and brought them home. After leafing through my stacks of cookbooks, I riffed on an idea from Madhur Jaffrey in her book World Vegetarian (have I ever told you how much I love her recipes?)
Boiled peanuts are pretty darn good. They really taste like the legumes they are, kind of a sweetly grassy cross between water chestnuts and baby lima beans. The seasonings in this recipe permeate the shell, delicately flavoring the softened peanut with a whiff of the exotic.
1 dried chili pepper, crumbled
1 2-inch knob fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 or 2 whole star anise
Put all the ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil; lower heat, cover and simmer about 1 hour, until peanuts are soft. Drain, cool and eat.
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