Quintessential Boiled Peanuts

South Louisianans boil peanuts with Tabasco mash, others throw in crab boil. Some fans prefer them warm, others demand that they be chilled.  People eating boiled peanuts are usually engaged in other tasks—driving, chatting, fishing, watching a ball game.

Peanuts came to North America from Africa and the Caribbean with the slave trade, sometime before the American Revolution. African Americans grew and popularized the peanut both boiled and roasted.

For many the quintessential experience is purchasing them by the side of the road or in a gas station, in soggy brown kraft-paper bags.

Here is the simplest recipe from which a thousand variations can be made:

  • 3 quarts water
  • 3 pounds (8 cups) freshly dug green peanuts in shell
  • 3 tablespoons salt

Bring the water and salt to a low boil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the peanuts and cook to taste, usually 1 to 2 hours. Some like the shell to become soft enough almost to be edible. Let the peanuts sit in the water off the heat until the desired degree of saltiness is reached.

Kuromame (Sweet Black Soybeans)

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  • 3½ ounces kuromame (black soybean)
  • 3 ounces raw sugar
  • 1 tablespoon  Japanese soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

Rinse kuromame and discard any that have spoiled.  Soak it in  water for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Discard the water.

Boil kuromame with water in a pot and add sugar, soy sauce and salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Simmer under low heat for about 3 hours or until soft. Remove any white foam and impurities that form during simmering.

Remove from heat and let it cool. Refrigerate overnight so that the beans will absorb more flavor.

 

Fancy Crab Hush Puppies

3 cups White Lily buttermilk cornmeal mix
1 cup White Lily self-rising flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped scallions
2½ cups buttermilk
1 pound lump crab-meat
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Tartar sauce for dipping

Fill a deep-sided cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven with 1 inch of oil. Place over medium-high heat, and bring the oil to 375 degrees. Monitor and keep the temperature between 350 and 375 degrees while you are frying.

In a large bowl, whisk all the ingredients together. Working in batches, drop a tablespoons into the oil and fry until golden and crisp, usually 3 to 4 minutes, turning occasionally.  Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Serve with a bowl of tartar sauce for dipping

Bindaetteok (Korean Mung Bean Pancakes)

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2 cups dried mung beans, rinsed a few times
¼ cup sweet rice, rinsed a few times
½ cup kimchi liquid
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Pinch of coarse salt
1 generous cup finely diced kimchi
Vegetable oil, for frying
Korean Scallion Dipping Sauce

Add the mung beans and rice in a medium bowl. Add cold water to cover by 1 inch and soak for at least 6 hours and up to 24.

Drain the soaked mung beans and rice and place in a blender along with ½ cup fresh water, the kimchi liquid, fish sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce, and salt. Blend being careful not to over mix as it should be coarsely pureed.  Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and fold in the kimchi.

Heat vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Using a ¼-cup measure, ladle in the pancake batter to form pancakes and cook until crisp and browned on the first side, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip and cook until crisp and browned on the other side, about 2 minutes. Transfer the pancakes to a paper towel-lined plate and continue with the remaining batter and more oil as necessary.

Serve hot with Scallion Dipping Sauce.

 

Culinary Fun Fact: Are all fish eggs caviar??

False!  False!  Caviar only refers to the cured eggs of certain species of sturgeon. That’s it, don’t be fooled.  Salmon, trout, paddlefish, etc. those are technically roe, but not caviar. Caviar is not a regulated term, so buyer beware.

What to look for:

Read the label. You want to see a far-off expiration date (most jars get at least two months from the time of packing), a lot harvest date to show tracking, and the scientific species, country of origin, and farm to know you’re getting what you’re paying for.

Be wary of the words:

“beluga,” “Caspian,” or “wild.”  They are often black market

“Osstra” that is not specifically Acipenser gueldenstaedtii (Russian Sturgeon).

“Sodium tetraborate” a preservative that’s not necessarily bad, but is often used to mask off flavors

Look in the jar. You should see individual spheres, nothing smashed or deflated, no liquid pooling.

Good caviar needs nothing more than a buttery bread such as brioche or challah, crepes, or yeasted blini. Lay out an assortment of snipped chives, minced shallots, and sieved hard-boiled egg.

 

Tofu No Ishirizuke (tofu doused in fish sauce)

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1 10.5 ounce block Japanese-style tofu
2 teaspoons Japanese fish sauce *
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon quality dark sesame oil
7-spice powder (shichimi togarashi)

Remove the tofu from the package and set it on a cutting board propped up at one end and angled into the kitchen sink to allow it to drain.  Place another cutting board or other similar weight on top of the tofu and leave to press out moisture for 1 hour. The top board should not smash the tofu.

Place the tofu on a small plate, spoon the fish sauce over the tofu, and rub it across the surface. Make sure the bottom surface is filmed with fish sauce as well. Place a sauté pan over high heat and add the oils. Carefully add the fish sauced tofu into the hot pan. Sear on both sides for about 1 minute. Cut into 8 pieces, sprinkle with shichimi togarashi, and serve as a small plate before dinner or as a side dish.

Schichimi Togarashi (7-SPICE POWDER): Contains red pepper, sansho, tangerine peel, white and black sesame seeds, hemp seeds, dried ginger, and aonori. Readily available at Asian markets.

* If Japanese fish sauce is not available, use another top-shelf fish sauce such as Red Boat from Vietnam.

Ikura No Shoyuzuke (Soy Sauce Cured Salmon Roe)

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1 large very fresh sac of salmon roe (about 7 ounces)
½ cup sake
2 tablespoons high-quality soy sauce

Set a medium-sized bowl in the kitchen sink and fill with warm, not hot water. Submerge the egg sac in the water and gently pry the roe from the outer membrane. Remove the membrane tendrils from among the eggs. Drain the eggs as you go in a wire-mesh strainer.

Dump the milky water used to soak the sacs.  In a bowl pour in the sake and let salmon roe soak for at least 30 minutes. Drain and discard.  Add the soy sauce, and taste. Add a dash or more soy sauce, to taste. The roe should be balanced between their  sweetness and the  soy sauce but should not be too salty.  Serve as an appetizer in a small, bowl with soy sauce and chopsticks alongside.

it’s lightly cured so it’s quite perishable.

Garnish with a little slivered yuzu or Meyer lemon peel, if you like.