Are you looking for some healthy, yet macho-man-worthy snacks for a bunch of raving football fans. Give these Chinese Five-spice Boiled Peanuts a try! Unlike most of the other popular tailgate snacks that are high in sugar or salt, these boiled peanuts are much healthier. They are also highly addictive with no adverse physiological effects. If you live in South Carolina or nearby states, you probably know that boiled peanuts are called the “caviar of the South”.
Folks from the southern states aren’t the only ones who love boiled peanuts. It’s also a popular snack in China. Nuts or seeds in shells were the most popular snacks when I grew up. When the weather gets cooler, the sound of shells cracking gets louder. While Americans are filling their cheeks with popcorn at the movies, the Chinese are busy cracking open shells like squirrels.
I was never a big fan of roasted peanuts. Many times, my mom would ask me why. Although I couldn’t find the words at the time, I figure it must have been I just preferred softer texture and bold spicy flavors of the boiled peanuts. I still remember hanging out with my friends on those chilly days. In the background to all our chatting and laughing was that shell cracking sound from those hearty Chinese five-spice boiled peanuts. So much fun!
As boiling is one of the most common cooking methods in Chinese cuisine, it’s easy to understand why boiled peanuts are popular in almost every Chinese household. (Not many Chinese families had an oven, and roasted peanuts were only commercially available). Simply fill a pot with water and either freshly harvested peanuts, aka green peanuts, or raw dried peanuts (raw dried peanuts need to be soaked overnight). Add some salt and a few popular Chinese spices. After boiling them on a stove for hours, you’ll get those soft and spiced boiled peanuts.
You have many choices as far as spices are concerned. My favorite is this Chinese five-spice combination:
Tsaoko fruit (aka Black cardamom)
To reduce the cooking time, I used my pressure cooker. All the flavors from the spices and salt are slowly infused into the peanuts by boiling and steeping. If you’d like to add a hot spicy kick, throw in a few chili peppers before you close the pressure cooker lid.
Be sure to make a large batch because your tailgate friends will be grabbing handfuls.
- 1 lb dried peanuts, raw and in shell
- 5 cups water
- 1½ tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 cinnamon stick, approximately 3” long
- 2 star anise
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 2 cloves
- ½ piece Tsaoko fruit
- Soak dried peanuts in a large mixing bowl overnight, which will also remove the dirt on the shell. Rinse and drain.
- Add soaked peanuts, water, and the remaining ingredients in a pressure cooker. Follow the instructions of the pressure cooker and cook 23 minutes with a low heat. Let pressure drop on its own accord.
2. Preparation time includes the soaking time. If you use fresh “green peanuts”, skip the soaking step.