James and I are avid board game fans; yes, we still outdo our own nerdiness on a frequent basis. We always invite friends over to play board games and are often recruited to others’ places because of our board game collection. Recently, we were at a friend’s house playing Clue for nostalgia’s sake. Everything was going swimmingly until hunger struck…
…and then I, in my hangry state, murdered Mr. Body with the candlestick in the library.
Well, that might be a slight exaggeration on my part. My stomach growled like it wanted to kill something in order to feed itself, and we went on a scavenger hunt to see what we could forage from my friend’s snack collection. The final product? Crispy, salted seaweed and roasted peanuts. It wasn’t filling, but I think that actively eating something made me feel less murderous.
We started talking about how we enjoyed eating peanuts in various ways, and I remembered how much I loved eating boiled peanuts when I was younger. My mom would boil peanuts in salted water on the stove for hours, and I would eat them one by one, gorging myself on the boiled peanut bounty until I was peanut-bloated. I resolved at that point to boil some for myself the next day.
Right before I started to cook the peanuts, however, James pointed out that I should make the peanuts more interesting–and so I thought immediately of star anise and Sichuan peppercorns. Because it was late, I figured that I could let the peanuts cook in the slow cooker overnight as well. And so… this recipe was born!
If you’re not a fan of Sichuan peppercorns or that numbing-spicy (má là, or 麻辣) sensation, feel free to leave it out. Honestly, I’m in the middle of a twisted love affair with Sichuan food so I would double the amount I’ve listed… Also, I’ve done some research online and apparently these very closely resemble Hawaiian-style boiled peanuts. Since I’ve never had them, it’s hard for me to have a basis of comparison… but if you’ve eaten them before, it sounds like you can expect a similar concoction of flavors.
You can also use a pressure cooker to cook these peanuts (~1 hour) or a stovetop and pot (~4-5 hours on medium low, covered). I really liked the ease of “set it and forget it” that slow cookers bring to the table, however, and found that I was able to get the same kind of soft consistency in the peanut that I normally do when boiling it on the stove.
Regardless of how you cook them, these peanuts are amazing, flavorful, and hard to put down! Perfect for your next board game finger food list or just for snacking while watching something on TV.
Chinese-Style Boiled Peanuts
- 1 lb. raw peanuts
- 3 star anise, whole
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 Tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp. Sichuan peppercorn (optional)
- 4 cups water
- Wash the raw peanuts under cold water.
- Add the kosher salt and water into the slow cooker pot and stir until the salt has dissolved.
- Add the star anise, garlic, cinnamon sticks, and peppercorns (if using).
- Add the peanuts to the pot and stir to mix.
- Place something on top of the peanuts that will fit even with the slow cooker lid closed–we need to make sure the peanuts are submerged in water, and a weight on top will do the trick.
- Set your slow cooker on high for 8 hours.
- After 8 hours has passed, pour the contents of the pot into a strainer to drain the peanuts. [I also pick out the pieces of garlic since they’re pretty mushy and not so appetizing-looking.]
- These peanuts can be served immediately or kept in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.