This recipe comes to us from Natalie Keng’s debut cookbook, Egg Rolls & Sweet Tea: Asian Inspired, Southern Style!
Chinese-y Surprise Dirt Beans
1 pound unshelled raw peanuts
1⁄4 cup naturally brewed soy sauce
4 tablespoons muscovado sugar or 4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt (optional)
2 cinnamon sticks or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon minced shallot or 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
2 or 3 pods of star anise pods
In a large pot or bowl of water, soak the peanuts for 15 minutes to remove dirt. Rinse until the water runs clear and drain well. Dispose of any grit that has settled to the bottom of the pot.
If you would like to help the peanuts absorb more flavor in a shorter amount of cooking time, gently crack the tip of each peanut.
In a slow cooker, combine the peanuts, soy sauce, sugar, salt (if using), cinnamon sticks, shallot, and star anise pods. Add enough water to cover the peanuts. Put a heatproof plate on top to keep them from floating up during cooking. Cover and cook on high for about 6 hours, or to the desired tenderness. (We prefer the peanuts al dente rather than super soft. They’re easier to remove from the shell that way, too.)
Let the cooked peanuts cool in the pot with the seasoned liquid. Remove the peanuts from the pot with a slotted spoon. Crack open the shell and gently squeeze the peanuts out. Eat directly from the shell while slurping the liquid. Keep a hanky or towel handy and roll up your sleeves in case of dripping. (Discard the shells in the garden or a compost pile. Crushed peanut shells make a great mulch.) Cover any leftover peanuts with some of the seasoned liquid and store in the refrigerator. Consume within a week or freeze up to a month.
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