Thursday, June 30, 2011

Recipe #69: Spicy Coated Groundnuts (Peanuts)

Are you tired of those same old party peanuts? Here's a way to wake them up!

While in the U.S. we're most likely to coat peanuts with something sweet (see recipe #44, "Groundnut Cakes), here is a savory peanut snack/appetizer recipe from Ghana. The hardest part of this may be to locate raw unsalted peanuts with their skins still on. I finally found some at a health food store. Perhaps one could substitute raw peanuts without their skins, but my guess is that the batter would not stick to the peanuts as well.

Recipe #69: Spicy Coated Groundnuts(Peanuts)

Assemble the 9 ingredients:

  • 8 oz flour (1 1/2 to 2 cups unsifted)
  • 3 teaspoons ground dried red cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt, more or less to taste (whoops, I forgot that in the picture)
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk (plus enough water to make the batter thin enough to coat, about 4 Tablespoons)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pound (16 oz) shelled raw unsalted peanuts with their skins on (about 3 cups Spanish peanuts)
  • vegetable oil for deep-frying (I prefer canola)
  1. Add several cups of vegetable oil to a deep fryer, if using, or to a deep heavy pan. Do not fill either over half full. Heat the oil to around 360 degrees F while you make the batter (this would probably be between medium high and high on my stove top if you're frying them in a pan on the stove).
  2. Sieve (sift) together the 4 dry ingredients (flour, peppers, and salt) into a large bowl. 
  3. In a separate bowl, use a fork or wire whisk to beat together the eggs, shake the can of evaporated milk, then open it and add the 1/4 cup, and mix.
  4. Here is the first tricky part: add the liquid to the dry ingredients to make the batter, mixing well. At this point, you'll have to determine if the batter is too thick to mix the peanuts into without clumping. Add water or more milk, a tablespoon at a time, until it is thick enough to coat the peanuts, but not watery.
  5. Put a spoonful of batter into a small bowl, and mix in an equal amount of groundnuts.
  6. Here's the second tricky part: I've done a fair share of deep-frying, but I found it impossible to get the peanuts into the mixture to cook individually any way but by putting them in that way. I ended up scooping a spoonful of coated peanuts onto a long-handled spoon over the fryer, then using a knife (also with a long handle), to tap each peanut into the oil, being careful not to splatter myself. When the nuts are in the oil, stir them constantly with a long-handled metal or wooden spoon to make sure they brown evenly. As soon as they turn quite brown (the browner are they, the crispier they'll be, but being careful they do not cross the line to burned), remove with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels or paper.

A perfect snack to eat while sipping a nice cold Star or Club beer (sigh, none here in central Pennsylvania), or some fruit juice, bissap (aka sobolo),  ginger beer, or iced tea. If it were winter here in Pennsylvania, they'd also go well with a hot drink like coffee.The hot oil somehow steams the peanuts so they're still chewy, but the crispy, spicy coating gives them a kick. I'd eat them soon after making them.
NOTE: I did try frying some of the peanuts in clusters, but they seemed soggier rather than crisper. I'd stick with frying the nuts individually.

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