Traditional wok roasted peanuts is an almost forgotten dish in the big cities of China today. With such a wide variety of cuisines available and the hundreds of choices across menus everywhere, this dish has been put on the back burner…but it’s still available at small food stalls (大排挡) across the country. Nowadays, though, unless they’re homemade, the peanuts are often just deep fried, because it requires a lot of TLC to hand-roast these babies to perfection.
Wok roasted peanuts are great paired with a cold beer. For the price of 3 US dollars, a couple of buddies can enjoy a plate of these hand-stirred, wok roasted peanuts and wash them down with a couple of Yanjing or Qingdao beers. Ahhh….very nice! You can also see these brought to your table before a meal at Cantonese restaurants.
When I was growing up in China, this dish was considered Chinese-New-Year-meal-worthy. Some form of peanut is usually in every family’s Chinese New Year feast. I guess “feast” is a relative term. Basically, the New Year meal was always better than our everyday meals, so to a little kid like myself at that time, what was really a modest meal definitely looked like a feast. These roasted peanuts were always there and never disappointed.
When I was little, living with my grandmother in Shanghai, I remembered there was an old man who lived next to us. During the summer months, he would eat his dinners outside at a small wooden table and bench set for one person. There were usually at least four small plates of yummy dishes (小菜) prepared by his wife, and these roasted peanuts were on the table everyday. This is how I knew that they had some money, because peanuts were expensive then and we couldn’t really afford them. He would be out there everyday at the same time, drinking his beer, enjoying his wife’s cooking, talking to neighbors, and slowly eating those peanuts one at a time. I would steal looks at them, trying hard not to reach out and grab one.
This dish is actually very easy to make, and like I said, it’s a great finger food to go with your cold beer. Sarah can eat them continuously until they’re all gone. They’re very addictive, so consider yourself warned!
You’ll only need three simple ingredients:
- ½ lb shelled raw peanuts, rinsed and patted very dry (you want to get the peanuts that still have the pink “skins” on them.)
- 1 tablespoon of oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste
Heat up your wok over low heat, and make sure it’s completely dry. Add oil and the peanuts. Keep stirring continuously for about 15 – 20 minutes until the outsides start to get darker and the peanuts get really fragrant. Don’t stop stirring, or they may burn! It may seem like a long time to stand at the stove stirring, but it’s totally worth it.
Add the sea salt, mix well and turn off the heat. Let the peanuts cool completely (they get really hot during the cooking process, so handle with care). After they’re cooled, the peanuts will have that great crunch that you’re looking for.
Once they’re cool, enjoy! We like to store the leftovers in jars to snack on later.
Here’s the printable version:
Traditional Chinese Wok Roasted Peanuts
- ½ pound shelled raw peanuts (225g, rinsed and pat very dry; you want to get the peanuts that still have the pink "skins" on them)
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or more to taste)
- Heat up your wok over low heat, and make sure it's completely dry. Add oil and the peanuts. Keep stirring continuously for about 15 - 20 minutes until the outsides start to get darker and the peanuts get really fragrant. Don't stop stirring, or they may burn! It may seem like a long time to stand at the stove stirring, but it's totally worth it.
- Add the sea salt, mix well and turn off the heat. Let the peanuts cool completely (they get really hot during the cooking process, so handle with care). After they're cooled, the peanuts will have that great crunch that you're looking for.