Anise Boiled Peanuts

Bajiao Huashengmi

Flavor: AniseMeal: Easy, Cold

The true test for a chopstick virtuoso is to pick up a boiled peanut with a pair of smooth ivory chopsticks. Many Szechwanese restaurants on Taiwan give you ample opportunity to try your skill by putting tiny plates of boiled peanuts on your table the minute you sit down. Mrs. Chiang’s recipe for this traditional hors d’oeuvre uses soy sauce, star anise, and Szechwan peppercorns to produce fragrant, anise-flavored peanuts that are slippery enough to give any chopstick expert a good workout. We serve them as a cold appetizer before a large meal, but they make a good snack at any time. They are also very easy to prepare, and can be cooked in advance and stored for days in the refrigerator.

You must use fresh raw peanuts for this dish. They are available at health food stores as well as at Chinese markets.

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Method

Cooking

2 cups raw peanuts You do not have to remove the dark red skins from the peanuts.

3-½ cups water

5 whole star anise, or the equivalent in pieces

4 teaspoons Szechwan peppercorns

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Put the peanuts in a medium-sized saucepan and pour the water over them. Add the star anise, Szechwan peppercorns, soy sauce, salt, and sesame oil.
2-inch piece fresh ginger

Do not peel the ginger; just cut it into 3 or 4 chunks and add them to the pot.

Bring the peanuts to a boil, then turn down the flame and let them simmer for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until they have absorbed most of the cooking liquid.

Stir them several times while they are cooking.

Salt, if necessary Taste the peanuts for seasoning after they have cooked for an hour or so (they may need a little more salt), then remove from the heat and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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