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Give Peanuts a Warm, Bacon-y Braise in Soy Sauce

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Think of the multitude of ways peanuts feature in food—roasted, salted, blanched, boiled, ground, crumbled, and, of course, as peanut butter (or mamba). Braising them may not be the first cooking method that comes to mind—after all, we're turning the typically crunchy, toasty peanut all soft—but I love the flipped expectation.

Soy Sauce–Braised Peanuts
Soy Sauce–Braised Peanuts

In parts of China, Malaysia, and Singapore, especially amongst people of Teochew descent, soy sauce–braised peanuts are often served alongside congee. In Korea, a similar braised peanut dish, ddangkong jorim, is often topped with a flurry of toasted sesame seeds and served as a banchan. And at home in Malaysia, braised peanuts feature regularly in my mom’s cooking, too. She’ll often add peanuts to lotus root soup, where the peanuts are braised for hours with pork bones, thick slices of lotus root, and red dates; they fortify the soup with a deep, soulful warmth.

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I riffed on the classic recipe for peanuts braised in soy sauce, adding a bit of bacon for an extra punch of umami. You can have these peanuts as a snack, topped with chopped cilantro and a dash of sesame oil. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to serve them with whatever else you’re having for dinner. Here are five dishes to pair them with, where they can truly shine:

Congee

A plain, unfussy congee with minimal ingredients provides a perfect vessel for these rich, umami-laden braised peanuts. (For the congee, simply boil a 1:6 ratio of rice and water for 15-20 minutes until the rice breaks up.) Spoon in some of that rich peanut braising juice into the congee too for some extra oomph. Alternatively, have them with any of these equally hearty congees: Gingery Congee with Pork and Crispy Shallots or Smoky Chicken and Barley Congee.

Gingery Congee with Pork and Crispy Shallots

Gingery Congee with Pork and Crispy Shallots by monkeymom

A Soulful Bowl-Full (Smoky Chicken and Barley Congee)

A Soulful Bowl-Full (Smoky Chicken and Barley Congee) by savorthis

Soups & Stews

These braised peanuts will work well in any East Asian–style soup, especially in a classic lotus root soup (here’s my vegetarian version with coconut water). Use it to top this Yam and Peanut Stew. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, use it in place of hominy in a pozole recipe (though it’ll probably no longer be a pozole, in that case).

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Salads

Braised peanuts can be thrown into the mix of many a grain salad. It lends especially well in salads with a soy or sesame dressing, like this Chickpea Vegetable Bowl, or this Shaved Asparagus and Kamut Grain Salad.

How to Make Any Grain Salad in 4 Steps

How to Make Any Grain Salad in 4 Steps by Emily Horton

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Radish and Pecan Grain Salad

Radish and Pecan Grain Salad by Amanda Hesser

Noodle Salads

I know, I know, this might seem like a cop-out, as salad was the last category, but I personally believe noodle salads deserve to be their own category. While it’s not always obvious to throw braised peanuts into any ole pasta or noodle salad, they can work wonders if done right. Try adding it to any East Asian-inspired noodle salads, like Peanut Noodles with Seared Tempeh and Fried Shallots or Peanut Soba Noodle Sala or Miso Peanut Pasta Salad.

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Soy Sauce–Braised Peanuts

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Serves 4-6
  • 2 cups raw peanuts, shelled
  • 1 slice of bacon
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
Go to Recipe

What do you enjoy braised peanuts with? Let us know in the comments!

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Chinese, Sauce, Nut, Peanut