Fried Peanut Snack with Kaffir Lime, Lemongrass, and Chilies

Tom Yum Krob

Only a few years ago, you could only find these spiced nuts in Thailand. The familiar name Tom Yum infers that the flavor is hot and sour with an edge of sweet, similar to the Hot and Sour Shrimp soup. Keeping with that theme mini shrimp with their thin shell still in tact are fried and added or small fish like the ones used in the Malaysian Coconut rice.

Now a version is even sold at non-Asian markets in the U.S., but homemade are much better. Don’t be shy about personalizing recipe, especially during the last stage of stir-frying. I sometimes customize them with minced ginger or ground coriander. Save the leftover cooking oil for use in other dishes. Oh yeah: go get a beer and go at it!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Vegetable oil for frying
  • ¼ cup Dried Long red chilies or other hot red chilies
  • ½ cup Kaffir lime leaves, fold back and pull out veins, ripped into 1-inch (2.5 cm.) pieces
  • 2 cups Raw peanuts, skinned
  • 2 stalks Lemongrass, trimmed and minced
  • 2 Tbsp. Tamarind pulp
  • ½ tsp. Kosher salt, ground extra fine (in mortar or spice grinder)
  • tsp. Granulated sugar

Method

  1. In a small sauté pan or wok, heat oil over medium heat to about 350°F (a piece of lemongrass should sizzle immediately when added).
  2. Add chilies; cook briefly, 5 to 10 seconds, stirring to ensure even cooking. The chilies should lighten in color, and may puff slightly. Drain on towels. Blanch the lime leaves in the frying oil the same way, cooking until they stop sizzling (15 seconds at most, uneven lighter appearance is normal); drain on towels. Add the peanuts to the oil. These will take considerably longer to cook, up to 5 minutes until they are golden brown. Scoop or strain out peanuts.
  3. Drain oil from pan, leaving just one tablespoon. Set the pan over high heat. Stir-fry lemongrass for 10 seconds, it should not brown. Add the fried peanuts and stir-fry 10 seconds. Add sugar, salt and tamarind and mix rapidly coating the peanuts evening. Continue to stir-fry until the excess moisture has evaporated and mixture has coated peanuts. (the audible sizzle will subside)
  4. Add whole fried chilies and lime leaves; toss well. Transfer to towel-lined pan, sprinkle evenly with salt and sugar. Cool to room temperature before serving.

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