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.

Sorghum Glazed Baby Carrots

1 cup hard apple cider
½ cup sorghum
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 bunches baby carrots (about 1 pound)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the cider, sorghum, lemon juice, orange juice, and butter in a skillet. Bring to a simmer, then add the carrots in a single layer. You may need to cook them in batches, depending on the size of your pan.

Lightly season the carrots with salt and pepper and cook until tender, approximately 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and continue to simmer the sauce until it is reduced to a thin glaze.

Before serving, put the carrots back in the pan and reheat them in the glaze.

 

Kombu No Tsukudani (昆布の昆布)

1 big piece rehydrated kombu (from making Vegetarian Dashi)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1⅔ cups water
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Cut the kombu into strips about 1½ inches wide, then julienne them. Add to a saucepan with the soy sauce, sugar, mirin, vinegar and water, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium—it should be between a simmer and a boil, and cook until the liquid reduces to a thick, sticky glaze.

Taste the kombu; it should be quite soft but not mushy. If it needs more cooking, add a little water.  There should be no liquid left; it should be a glaze as opposed to a sauce. When the kombu is ready, stir in the sesame seeds. Leave to cool before using as a filling for onigiri, a topping for rice or on its own.

 

Hanarenkon (Flower-Shaped Lotus Root)

  • 3¼ ounces lotus root
  • 2 tablespoons  rice vinegar

Vinegar Mixture

  • 4 tablespoons  rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons  water
  • 2 tablespoons  raw sugar
  • 2 tablespoons  lemon juice
  • Sea salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients for the vinegar mixture, except
lemon juice, in a saucepan. Place it over low heat to
dissolve all the sugar and salt. Allow to cool.

Peel and slice lotus root into 1/4 inch thick rings. Soak
immediately in water and 1 tablespoon of vinegar to prevent
discolouration. Make flower cuts and drain before using.

Boil a pot of water and add the other tablespoon of vinegar.
Add sliced lotus root flowers and boil for 5 minutes.
Remove lotus root and allow to cool.

Add lotus root slices to vinegar mixture and lemon juice in
a resealable bag. Remove any air from the bag, seal and
refrigerate for a minimum of 2–3 hours.

They are better on day two after the sweetness and contrasting sourness become more prominent.

Vegetarian Dashi

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8 cups cold water
14 ounces of vegetable offcuts and peelings from 4 different kinds of vegetables such as carrots, daikon, Chinese cabbage, pumpkin, turnip, etc.
2 slices of root ginger
3/4 ounces of konbu

Place all the ingredients in a pan. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then simmer until reduced by half.

Strain through a fine sieve and use as needed.

The dashi will keep in the fridge for a few days and in the freezer for up to 3 months.

 

Shiitake Mushroom Dashi

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5 cups Vegetarian Konbu Dashi Stock
11/4 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms
1 teaspoon caster sugar
pinch of sea salt

Add Vegetarian Konbu Dashi Stock to a pan until hot but not boiling, then remove from the heat.

Add the shiitake mushrooms, sugar and salt to the hot konbu dashi and let them soak for 2–4 hours. Remove the mushrooms, reserving them for another recipe.

Strain the dashi into a bowl avoiding any sediment or grit from the bottom of the pan.

The dashi will keep in the fridge for a few days and in the freezer for up to 3 months.

 

Vegetarian Konbu Dashi Stock

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11/4 ounces konbu
5 cups cold water
pinch of sea salt

Gently wipe the konbu with a damp cloth. Add the konbu and water to a pan, cover with a lid and let it stand for 8 hours or preferably overnight. The longer the soaking time, the more flavoursome your stock will be. At the end of the soaking time, remove the konbu from the water, add a pinch of salt and mix well. The konbu dashi is ready to be used.

The dashi will keep in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.