The Secret is Star Anise
Chinese boiled peanuts owe their unique flavor to star anise, which is a popular spice in many Chinese and Korean dishes. Like common anise, star anise has a flavor similar to black licorice, but surprisingly, anise and star anise come from two entirely separate plant families. To make authentic Chinese boiled peanuts, use star anise. If it's not available, you can substitute regular anice to create a similar flavor.
Like many great cultural dishes, most cooks who make Chinese boiled peanuts don't worry about exact measurements, and instead concentrate on adding ingredients to taste. Add as much or as little Star Anise as you want to create the flavor you desire.
In a large saucepan, cover about 1 cup of raw, shelled peanuts with water so that the water is at least 1 inch above the peanuts. Add 1 tbsp. of salt, or more if you like salty boiled peanuts, and two or three whole star anice. If you want a stronger anice flavor, add five or six whole anice.
Bring the mixture to a boil, adjusting the heat so that it remains at a gentle, rolling boil. Boil this way for about 45 minutes, or until the peanuts are soft, but not squishy. Drain the water and remove the star anise.
- Photo Credit Meliha Gojak
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