Saturday, November 1, 2008

Southern Food: Boiler Peanuts and Fried Okra

Boiled peanuts have recently been promoted to South Carolina's official snack food. More importantly, it's a snack food I really love, and a few weeks ago, when I was at a farmer's market, I decided to give them a try.

Having tried making them once a long time ago, and failing, I searched a lot online to make sure I was doing them right. Anyways, I used mostly water, salt, and some veggie broth. I threw the peanuts int here and let it boil for quite a while.

And after a while, it just kept boiling over and making quite a mess.

And they didn't get soft. So I kept boiling. In total, a ridiculous amount, like 16 hours. In the end, I just gave up. They didn't taste bad--they were just a little too hard.

So I kept asking around at work what I did wrong, and the answer, I finally got was that I was that I was boiling it at too high of a heat. So a week later, I tried it again, and instead of boiling it at a high heat for so long, I got it to a boil and then simmered at a low heat for a long time. It took about 6 hours to get the peanuts soft, which is about right according to the recipes, so the low heat must be the secret. And with that came great success as the boiled peanuts made a great snack.

Another food I've come to like more and more despite moving away from the South is okra. Usually it's in bhindi masala here, but in South Carolina, the way most people eat it is fried.

Looking up recipes online, I cut up the okra and threw it around in some corn meal and flour mixture. Then I threw it in the cast iron fryer.

The first batch was a little overcooked, but the second one was much better.

Overall it was pretty good. The bhindi masala that I eat around here seems like a better use for okra and is something I'll try next time. As far as fried okra is concerned, I'll try using an egg wash next time to give it a little thicker coating.

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