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The idea for these came from a packaged Japanese snack that I find totally addictive. It is easy to make at home, and then you can adjust the ratio of heat, orange zest, salt, and the tongue-numbing zing of the Sichuan peppercorn to your own preference. These guys pretty much have “snack with a beer” written all over them. They would also be awesome tossed with crispy, pan-fried tofu for a spicy variation on kung pao.
Sichuan peppecorns are the seed hulls (pericarps) from a tree in the citrus family. They do have a citrusy flavor, but their most prominent feature is the way they shock your tongue kind of like licking a 9-volt battery, but in a good way. The quantity I’ve specified in the recipe isn’t large, feel free to amp it up if you find you like that zing.
You can grind the spices in a mortar and pestle, with an electric coffee grinder, or with a ceramic hand mill like this Hario model. The Hario is great because it lets you adjust the grind very precisely.
Sichuan Peppercorn Peanuts
Vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and kosher
Yields 220 grams / a small bowl; multiply as needed
- 3.5 grams Sichuan peppercorns
- 2 grams coriander seed
- 1 1/2 grams ancho chili powder (or chili powder of your choice)
- 1 dried guajillo pepper
- 9 grams orange zest (see below for preparation)
- 35 grams neutral vegetable oil
- 200 grams unsalted, dry roasted peanuts
- 1 to 2 grams fleur de sel, or, better, Himalayan sulfur salt, ground to a powder (more to taste)
- Finely grind the Sichuan peppercorns and coriander seed and combine with the ancho powder. Remove the seeds and stem from the guajillo chili and cut it lengthwise into 2 strips, and then slice those crosswise into the thinnest threads you can manage. Add to the spices.
- Cut strips of orange zest, being careful to avoid the pith, then use your knife to cut into threads similar to the chili threads. Add to the spices.
- Line a paper plate with towels. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the spice mixture and cook until fragrant, but don’t allow to burn. Add the peanuts and cook, tossing frequently, for 2 more minutes. Remove to the paper towels, including all of the spices. Allow to drain for a few minutes, then transfer to a bowl, toss with the salt, adjust seasoning, and serve (or they will keep for a few days).
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