New Internationalist

Recipe of the week - Sesame and peanut crunch (China)


small planet cover Meat Free Monday Recipe!
The Small Planet Vegetarian Cookbook introduces a global spread of delicious low-impact vegetarian dishes. There’s something particularly enticing about a meal made up of several ‘small’ dishes, as with Middle Eastern mezze or Spanish tapas. Troth Wells has taken this style of cooking and enjoying food and given it an exciting global dimension.

Some of the best non-meat dishes come from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East and we have selected a range of highlights.

You can order a copy.


Serves: 24-30 pieces
Takes: 20 minutes

There’s a website that helps you get non-meat meals in China. You can say wo chi su (literally ‘I eat vegetables’) and show the characters in case your intonation is faulty – here they are!
我 吃 素
If you are just travelling through Chinese food instead, you can pick and choose at the many Chinese supermarkets. When I visit one, the colorful wrappings and lettering are part of the draw! There are many intriguing snacks, like this crunch.

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2 cups / 250 g unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped coarsely
½ cup / 50 g sesame seeds
2 cups / 450 g sugar
1 /3 cup / 80 ml white wine vinegar
4 teaspoons water
rice paper


1 Start by toasting the sesame seeds. To do this, place a frying pan on the cooker without any oil or fat. Heat it and then put the seeds in and shake them around as they brown. They are ready when they begin to pop about. Set aside.
2 Then mix the sugar, vinegar and water in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
3 Now bring the mixture to the boil and let it cook without stirring until it is golden and reaches 295-300oF/146-149oC, which is ‘hard-crack’ temperature. If you have no candy thermometer, test for this by taking a teaspoon and dipping it into the mixture. Then allow the syrup to drop onto a saucer of cold water. It should harden and snap with a clean break if it is ready. If it does not, continue to boil and test it again.
4 Grease a shallow baking tray 11 x 7 in/28 x 18 cm, and place rice paper on the bottom.
5 Mix the peanuts and half the sesame seeds into the sugar sauce and stir well. Then pour the mixture into the tray sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds over.
6 Allow the crunch to cool slightly and cut it into small pieces. Then leave in the baking tray to cool and harden completely.



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