Bring a medium-sized pot of water to the boil. Toss in the walnuts and cook for about 10 minutes to blanch them. Drain the nuts in a colander or sieve, then pat dry with kitchen paper and spread them out to dry on a baking tray. Sprinkle the sugar over the walnuts and roll them around in it to cover them completely. Place the tray of sugared walnuts in a cool, draughty place to dry. Leave them for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. (The recipe can be done ahead to this point.)
Heat the oil in a wok to moderate heat. Fry a batch of the walnuts for about 2 minutes, or until the sugar melts and the walnuts turn golden. (Watch the heat to prevent burning.) Remove the walnuts from the oil with a slotted spoon or sieve. Lay them on a non-stick tray or rack to cool. (Do not drain them on kitchen paper: the sugar will stick when it dries.) Deep-fry and drain the rest of the walnuts in the same way. Once cooled, the glazed walnuts can be kept in a sealed glass jar for about 2 weeks. Serve them as canapés with drinks or stir-fried with chicken or prawns.
© 1998 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.