It’s pretty much impossible to spend any real time in Hawaii without coming across boiled peanuts. Along with poke, boiled peanuts are a classic happy hour pupu (appetizer) and I can never seem to get enough of them. When I’m on Oahu, I stop by Tamura’s where there’s an awesome selection of booze, poke, and boiled peanuts. But I started getting annoyed that I was spending money on boiled peanuts since they require nothing more than a few ingredients and a few hours.
A word about boiled peanuts: they have a long history as a snack in the Southern US, in China, and, in Hawaii (likely brought over by Chinese immigrants), yet each region is slightly different. Southerners boil their peanuts in salt and sometimes add in a ham hock, some chiles, or some Cajun spices. Chinese-style peanuts have star anise which lends an exotic taste that I way prefer. Hawaiian peanuts are similar to Chinese style but made with Hawaiian sea salt, which gives it a unique taste.
Hawaiian-Style Boiled Peanuts Recipe
Raw peanuts can be hard to find but I’ve had good luck finding them in health food stores, Asian markets, and at farmer’s market; though you could also order them online. The classic Hawaiian way would be to simmer these with just the salt and star anise but I like the spicy kick the ginger and peppercorns add. If you’ve never had them before, go ahead and skip the ginger and peppercorns so you get a more authentic experience.
- Makes: About 10 cups
- Total Time: 2 1/2 hours, plus soaking time
- Hands-On Time: Less than 5 minutes
- 1 1/2 pounds raw peanuts
- 1/3 cup Hawaiian sea salt or kosher salt
- 16 cups water
- 6 to 8 whole star anise pods
- A 2 inch piece ginger, sliced into coins (optional)
- A pinch of black peppercorns (optional)
Rinse the peanuts then place in a large pot cover with water and soak for 30 minutes to 12 hours (you may need to use a pot top, plate, or resealable plastic bag filled with water to help keep the peanuts submerged). The longer you soak the peanuts, the less time they’ll need to simmer so I’d recommend going longer if you have the time.
Drain the water, cover the peanuts with fresh water, add the remaining ingredients and stir. Bring to a boil over medium heat. When it boils, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring every 15 minutes.
Start checking the peanuts after 1 hour of cooking. Remove one peanut from the liquid, let it cool slightly then peel it open and taste the peanut it’s done when it has the texture of a cooked bean. You may need up to 2 hours total. You’re only going for the cooked texture at this point so don’t worry too much about flavor.
Remove the peanuts from the heat and let cool in cooking water for 30 minutes to 2 hours. (Don’t skip this step because it’s essential to helping the peanuts get fully seasoned.)
Drain and store refrigerated until ready to eat. (These taste best when consumed within 7 days.)
Use nothing but peanuts, water, and salt and you’ll have classic Southern boiled peanuts.
Add 1/4 cup of your favorite spice mix, such as a Cajun, curry, or ras el hanout spice mix.
Make these in your slow cooker by combining everything and cooking it on high for 5 to 7 hours.
Pretty Easy is a monthly feature showcasing doable, yet interesting recipes. Even those who claim they can’t cook, find success with these recipes.