Adobong Mani With Fried Curry Leaves

February 22, 2022
1 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Prop Stylist: Molly Fitzsimons. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • makes about 2 cups
Author Notes

Adobong mani is my dad’s favorite pulutan, or snack. He recalls vendors in Paradahan public markets, plazas, and jeepney stops selling red-skinned Spanish peanuts fried with garlic. I queried my Auntie Joy, who is lauded for her recipe. “Whenever we get together, they want me to bring the peanuts,” she told me. “Almost fifteen pounds, every person got two pounds each.” She tired of lugging the bags to every party and bestowed the recipe to my mom, who then taught my Uncle Bernie. Now, everyone my dad hangs out with knows how to make the snack.

Most adobong mani recipes will tell you to fry the ingredients separately in stages, but I took Auntie Joy’s “all at once” method and found the best frying temperatures for consistent results. It starts high then drops, so the peanuts cook all the way through until crisp, but do not burn. To accomplish this, you’ll need a candy or clip-on thermometer to monitor the oil temperature, which can vary between gas, electric, and induction ranges. Instead of garlic chips or whole cloves that you’d find in other versions, I’ve cut them in half and smashed them—resulting in crispy-edged medallions. For a modern twist, I throw in fresh curry leaves and siling labuyo, or Thai chile peppers, in the last 30 seconds. In my opinion, the more crunchies, the better.

While these are great for a party, it’s also fun to pack the peanuts in paper bags and drop them off at a friend’s house. Plus, the dish just happens to be vegan and gluten-free. Enjoy adobong mani like my dad, with an ice-cold light beer during a Lakers game. Or for the kids, a Shirley Temple—like my grandpa used to make for me. —Jenn de la Vega

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 12 garlic cloves (30 grams/1 ounce), peeled
  • 2 cups (300 grams/10 ounces) raw, red-skinned Spanish peanuts
  • 20 fresh curry leaves, large stems removed
  • 2 dried or fresh red or green Thai chile peppers or 1 fresh cayenne pepper, stem removed and sliced into rings (use kitchen shears to cut dry chiles)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large wok over medium-high heat to 350°F. Set up a fine-mesh sieve nested in a medium bowl and line a sheet pan with paper towels near your work surface. While the oil heats, halve the garlic crosswise and crush each piece with the side of a knife or with a mortar and pestle.
  2. Turn off the heat under the wok and carefully add the peanuts to the oil. Let them sizzle until the oil temperature drops to 250°F.
  3. Return the wok to medium-low heat, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a temperature between 250°F and 275°F. Stirring occasionally, fry the peanuts for 10 minutes, until the oil smells toasty and the peanut skins have turned a few shades darker, from dusty coral pink to brick red. If the oil is too hot, move it to an inactive burner until it reaches the desired temperature range.
  4. Add the crushed garlic halves and cook, stirring halfway through, for an additional 5 minutes, or until the garlic begins to turn golden brown around the ragged edges. At this point, the peanut skins should be dark copper brown in color and should not be actively bubbling anymore.
  5. Carefully add the fresh curry leaves and chile peppers. They may make the oil splatter! Stir until they stop making popping sounds and the curry leaves turn a darker shade of green.
  6. Turn off the heat, then, using a slotted spoon, transfer the mixture to the sieve nested in the bowl. Between scoops, sprinkle the salt over the hot peanuts. The peanuts will continue to cook off the heat. Let cool for 15 minutes. Transfer the peanut mixture to the prepared sheet pan to absorb any excess oil. Give it a few shakes to make sure the salt and garlic are distributed evenly.
  7. Strain the remaining, cooled vegetable oil through the sieve into the bowl. Let cool, then transfer the aromatic oil to a reusable container with a lid and reserve for another use. Enjoy the peanuts slightly warm, or let completely cool before storing in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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