Despite its diminutive size, the peanut has an important place in the Chinese kitchen. It is both a popular staple and the source of the most common cooking oil in China. Two more interesting facts about our little peanut friend: Technically, it isn’t a nut, but a legume. Also, although they are now cultivated throughout Asia, peanuts were originally introduced to China from the New World, four centuries ago. Whatever world you’re in, peanuts make a wonderful snack and can be added to stir-fries and sweets or ground for use in dressings, sauces, and soups.
- 2 cups Virginia peanuts
- ½ cup chopped cilantro leaves
- 1 tsp chopped mint leaves
- 6 tbsp Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange the peanuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast until the skins are lightly toasted, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a bowl.
To prepare the syrup, combine the cilantro, mint, vinegar, brown sugar, salt, and sesame seeds, if using, in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is syrupy and reduced by half, about 7 minutes.
Pour the syrup over the peanuts and stir to coat evenly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Nutritional information is based on 8 servings, and does not include optional toasted sesame seeds.