While Western cooks are accustomed to roasting nuts, Chinese cooks typically fry them. It is quick and easy, and the nuts are never dry. In a peanut butter, the fried nuts contribute an inimitable taste.
Have a large Chinese mesh spoon and a large plate alongside your stovetop.
Heat a wok or heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot. Add the oil, then heat to the slow-fry stage, 275° on a deep-fry thermometer, when the oil is swirling actively but still relatively warm. Lower the heat or turn it off so the temperature does not climb.
Add the nuts to the oil. They will barely bubble. Fry 5–7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the nuts turn pale gold, adjusting the heat so they fry at a constant temperature. Scoop the nuts from the oil with the spoon and transfer them without draining to the plate. The extra oil clinging to the nuts will be used in blending the butter.
Let the nuts cool 5 minutes. Once the oil cools, strain and bottle it for future frying.
Scrape the nuts and excess oil on the plate into the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel knife. Run the machine for 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl, then process for an additional minute. For a creamier texture, continue processing for 15–30 seconds more.
Refrigerate the peanut butter in a clean, airtight jar. It will keep 2 weeks or longer.
© 1982 Barbara Tropp estate. All rights reserved.