Sichuan Chile Peanuts + Green Bean Salad

Well, it’s official, Eric and I are now card-carrying New York City residents! Library-card carrying, that is. Last weekend we walked into a Brooklyn public library and walked out with actual evidence that we, in fact, live here, as well as a few shiny loaner books for good measure. To solidify things, we walked on to the Greenpoint Green Market, bought the biggest bunch of kale I have ever seen, and spent the rest of the weekend drinking beer. At the end of it, we concluded that we are living the exact same life we lived in Chicago, just in Brooklyn. I’m beginning to realize that no matter where in the world you place us, we’ll always be the long-run-on-the-weekend, drink-good-beer, buy-lots-of-kale kind of couple.

Sichuan Chile Peanuts

As for these peanuts, well, I’ve been meaning to experiment with them after eating boat loads of Huang Fei Hong in China. What an addicting little snack – I just had to recreate it at home. And, to boot, I happened to have a giant jar of Sichuan chili oil, making this project so not a pain in the ass. 

Oh, and see that new background in the photos…. yep, that’s my new kitchen counter! My kitchen is considerably smaller than our place in Chicago – my baking pans and pizza stone don’t even fit in the oven – but it is also nicer and better laid out. Get used to a new marble backdrop to my photos!

Sichuan Chile Peanuts (2)

And then, feeling frisky, I took it a step further and made this green bean and edamame salad with a Sichuan-inspired dressing and those tasty little peanuts for texture. So there, now you have three reasons to make some Sichuan chile oil! I promise, it’s worth it.

Sichuan Beans + Edamame

Sichuan Chile Peanuts + Green Bean Salad

Some of the Chinese ingredients here may seem obscure, but do try to seek them out. Green Sichuan peppercorns, in my opinion, are not replaceable with the red. They have a more citrusy and pleasant flavor than the red and make the peanuts particularly addictive. See my post linked below for the chile oil on sourcing them. The Shaoxing wine has become a staple in my kitchen. It has such a lovely, unctuous flavor that adds that hint of complexity to the dressing.

Frozen green peas would work well here instead of edamame, also.

Oh, and the peanuts are a delicious snack on their own and go surprisingly well with both beer and red wine.

for the peanuts:

1 cup raw peanuts
2 tablespoons green Sichuan peppercorns
1 teaspoon red Sichuan peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon Sichuan Chili Oil (see this recipe)
3-4 dried red chile peppers, such as ancho, finely chopped

for the green bean salad:

1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
5 ounces shelled frozen edamame
2 tablespoons Sichuai chile peanuts

1 tablespoon Sichuan chili oil
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar or rice wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, smashed to a paste in a mortar and pestle
1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder, optional

To make the peanuts, heat the oven to 250 and coat the peanuts in the Sichuan pepper oil. Spread them evenly in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for ten minutes. After ten minutes, pull them out and stir them around, then add the peppercorns. Mix and bake for another five minutes. Check them at this point – they should be browning and well roasted. Be careful, as they begin to burn very quickly. For me, they were perfect, but yours may take a couple more (or less!) minutes. When done roasting, add the chopped dried chile and mix well. Set aside.

For the salad, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the green beans for 1 minute. Drain and shock them in cold water. Cook the edamame according to package directions. In a small jar or bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and shake or stir vigorously. Toss the edamame and green beans with the dressing. Top with peanuts.

Advertisements

Savory Yogurt

Yogurt. I don’t really remember eating it much until I studied abroad in Australia and found the creamiest of creamy yogurt. Seriously, why is Australian yogurt so creamy? I think it’s the bacteria profile. I’ve tried to find similar varieties in the US but haven’t been successful. Those so-called Australian-style brands don’t replicate my memories.

It was also in Australia that I discovered Greek yogurt covered in fruit, muesli or granola, and honey. In 2006, the Aussies were eating that stuff like crazy. At least, they were in the little coffee shop and cafe that I worked in. Quick shout out to the Aussies that pay a livable minimum wage. As a barista and occasional sandwich maker, in 2006 I was making $17/hour. Seriously.

Anyway, it was only a couple years ago that I started eating yogurt of the savory variety. I don’t even know why. One day, instead of adding honey, I threw in a little salt, and I’ve never turned back.

Savory Yogurt

My most recent iteration of savory yogurt includes truffle salt, but I’ve eaten varieties covered in za’atar, sprinkled with sumac, aleppo pepper, and dried mint, or others that are reminiscent of tzatziki. Sometimes just a dusting of cumin and ground coriander do the trick. For texture, add roasted nuts or seeds. I’ve even used edamame before. Think of yogurt as a blank canvas and you’ll start to see the possibilities.

Savory Yogurt (2)

In other news, Eric and I went to Idaho for the 4th of July and my birthday and had a blast backpacking in the Sawtooth Wilderness, visiting the little towns of Stanley and Ketchum, and exploring Boise via breweries. It was a really fun and affordable trip thanks yet again to our Southwest Companion Pass. The full set is here, but below are a couple favorite pics.

Idaho (34)

Idaho (45)

Now, go eat some savory yogurt.

Savory Yogurt (3)

Savory Yogurt

*Vary amounts of each based on how much yogurt you want to eat! This makes the perfect mid-morning snack.

Plain, full-fat Greek or regular yogurt
High-quality sheep’s milk feta, cubed
Cherry tomatoes, sliced
Fresh herbs, chopped (I used cilantro, flat-leaf parsley, and mint)
Fresh cracked pepper (I had some tellicherry peppercorns on hand)
Really good extra virgin olive oil
Truffle salt (you could also use truffle oil and add salt to taste)

Put the yogurt in a bowl, top it with everything, stir, eat. Always add the salt to taste – a little bit, stir, taste, add more if needed.

Yogurt Cheese

I have made this yogurt cheese from Madhur Jaffrey’s World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking twice now. I still don’t fully understand the difference between this and Greek yogurt, except that there is even less water content in yogurt cheese than there is in Greek-style yogurt. But still, what makes it cheese?

_MG_6607

_MG_6614

Either way, it’s good! Eric and I have been eating it on crackers, but it’d also be good slathered on some toasted french bread. The combinations of spices are endless, but I’ve been sticking with my new favorite spice of the moment, turmeric. Add in some really fruity olive oil and fresh black pepper, and you have a snack worthy of those moments when you’re procrastinating on writing a paper related to healthcare in Nicaragua.

_MG_6619

Yogurt Cheese with Turmeric, Olive Oil, and Black Pepper

adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking

1 32-ounce container plain yogurt (I have been loving Brown Cow brand)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and fresh ground black pepper

Double line a strainer with cheese cloth and place the strainer over a bowl. Pour the entire container of yogurt in and let strain for 8-12 hours, depending on how thick you want it to be. After 12 hours, I had almost two cups of liquid when mine was done. Transfer to another bowl and mix in the turmeric, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for 15-30 minutes to allow the flavors to mix and penetrate every bite, then eat on crackers, bread, or by the spoonful!