MONGOLIAN FRIED PEANUTS
Adapted from source: The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking: Techniques and Recipes by Barbara Tropp
250g (1 1/2 cups) raw, red-skinned peanuts
1 heaping Tbsp Szechwan brown peppercorns
1 heaping Tbsp star anise
1 Tbsp coarse salt
2 1/2 cups water
3 to 4 cups fresh corn or peanut oil
SEASONING THE NUTS:
Combine peppercorns, anise, salt, sugar and water in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stir, then reduce heat to maintain steady simmer.
Cover pot tightly, simmer 5 minutes, then add the peanuts. Stir to combine, replace cover and cook 5 minutes more.
Turn off heat and let peanuts steep in covered pot for 10-12 hours.
ROASTING THE NUTS:
Drain nuts in a colander, pat dry. Spread in a large jelly-roll pan, lined with triple thickness of paper towels. Discard anise.
Bake at 180°C for 30 minutes, shaking tray occasionally.
Rotate tray. Reduce heat to 150°C. Check at 10-15 minute intervals until nuts are almost entirely dry with a touch of moisture at the center. Remove from oven. Put in bowl to cool. (Nuts can be fried immediately, or left overnight. If you like them roasted, eat them now while warm.)
FRYING THE NUTS:
Have ready a tray lined with a double thickness of paper towels, a Chinese mesh spoon or metal strainer, large absorbent food-grade brown paper, and about 1/2 tsp coarse salt. Heat a wok or deep skillet over moderate heat until hot.
Add oil, and heat to slow-fry stage, 135 °C.
Reduce heat to low, then add peanuts to oil. They will hardly bubble. Fry 4-7 minutes until golden brown, stirring constantly and slowly. Do not let nuts brown. Scoop nuts from oil. Spread on towel lined tray.
Shake tray to blot up excess oil, then pour nuts into paper bag. Close the bag, gently turn and shake it to blot up the last oil, then add salt to taste and gently shake again.
Eat immediately or when cool as an hors d'oeuvre or placed in small bowls on the table as a diversion during a meal.
Once cool, the nuts will keep for 2 weeks, stored in an airtight jar.