Tua tod samun prai, or herbal Thai fried peanuts (tua = peanut, tod = deep fried, samun prai = medicinal herbs), are an easy to make snack that pairs consummately with cold, boozy fizz. In order to make them a handful of different aromatics including garlic, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, and dried chilies are individually fried in oil. Then the peanuts go into the fat, taking on the flavour of the fragrant oil. Finally, all of the fried ingredients are tossed together with salt and, ideally, MSG, to create these moorish nibbles.
They last for ages sealed up, and make a great on-the-go snack. Top tip: I like to throw a handful of these Thai peanuts in a zip-loc baggy, which I then toss into my rucksack to forget about until the friction of other items ruptures the bag. That way I can find single peanuts at the bottom of my bag for months to come and the grease stains add character to both my bag and its other contents.
Thai Fried Peanuts
ถั่วทอดสมุนไพร Tua Tod Samun Prai
The order of cooking, with all ingredients fried prior to the peanuts, creates an aromatic oil that helps to add further flavour to the peanuts. I typically add 1-2 teaspoons of salt and about ⅛ teaspoon MSG (it always bears repeating there is no reputable research to back up the urban myths about this ingredient), but adjust these to suit personal tastes.
- 250-300 millilitres vegetable oil
- 325 grams (2 cups peanuts)
- 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 3 tablespoons thinly sliced lemongrass
- 6-8 dried chillies
- 10-12 kaffir lime leaves
- Line a plate with kitchen roll.
- Add oil to a wok and heat for a few minutes on low. Add the garlic and fry for about 10-15 minutes, until lightly golden. It is important to keep the temperature of the oil low for this first step in order to avoid burning the garlic. Once the garlic is crispy and golden, remove it from the oil with a slotted spoon. Alternatively pour the oil through a metal mesh strainer into a heatproof container to catch the oil and filter out the garlic. Set the garlic aside in a medium sized bowl.
- Return the oil to your wok and bring the heat to medium-high. Once hot, add the lemongrass and cook for about 1-2 minutes, until shriveled up and lightly browned. Remove from the oil with a mesh strainer and add to the garlic. Repeat with dried chillies (about 30 seconds to 1 minute) and lime leaves (15-30 seconds).
- Once all of the aromatics are cooked, tip the peanuts into the oil. Cook, stirring constantly to avoid uneven cooking, for 5-7 minutes, until they darken a few shades to a light brown colour. Remove or sieve the oil and drain the peanuts on the plate lines with kitchen roll.
- Give the peanuts ten minutes or so to cool, and then add them to the bowl with the aromatics. Add salt and MSG to taste. Toss to combine.
- Author: Kip Dorrell
- Makes: 2 cups
- Cuisine: Thai