Sugar Walnuts


Walnuts, native to Asia, Europe and North America, hardly need an introduction. As might be expected, there are many ways of using them in the various cuisines of the world. Here, I have added the distinctive flavours of anise and cinnamon β€” walnuts are hearty enough to handle them, even though the blanching process has moderated the walnuts’ slight bitterness. Cooking them in the syrup and allowing them to dry gives the walnuts a tasty coating and seals in the syrup flavours. Delicious served as a starter with drinks, these walnuts are also used in the recipe for Crispy Cabbage with Sugar Walnuts, forming a classic combination of sweet and salty tastes, and crunchy and delicate crispness.

Once deep-fried, the walnuts can be stored in a tightly covered glass jar for at least a week. The recipe can easily be doubled.


  • 100 g (4 oz) walnuts, shelled
  • 300 ml (10 fl oz) oil, preferably groundnut, for deep-frying


  • 450 ml (15 fl oz) water
  • 50 g (2 oz) sugar
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick or Chinese
  • cinnamon bark
  • 3 tablespoons clear honey


Pre-heat the oven to its lowest temperature, then switch off.

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add the walnuts and cook for 2 minutes to blanch. Drain the nuts in a colander or sieve.

Mix the syrup ingredients together in a pan. Combine the nuts with the syrup mixture and boil for 10 minutes or until the syrup mixture thickens. Remove the nuts with a slotted spoon, place on a baking tray and leave to dry in the oven for at least 2 hours.

Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer or wok to moderate heat. Fry a batch of walnuts for about 2 minutes or until the walnuts turn dark brown (watch the heat to prevent burning). Remove the walnuts with a slotted spoon or strainer and lay them on a baking tray to cool. Deep-fry and drain the rest of the walnuts in the same way. Serve them warm with Crispy Cabbage or cold with drinks.