Cooking 101 – Deep Frying Groundnuts

Cooking 101  Frying groundnuts 004 edited re-sized

Dry-roasted or deep fried ground nuts form a large part of the South East Asian diet appearing in desserts, savoury dishes and sauces. They are a cheap and valuable source of protein too. This legume has high nutritional value of protein, fats, vitamins, dietary minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, selenium and zinc. Just be watchful about serving these delicious snacks to guests and family members who have peanut allergies.

The trickiest part of deep frying ground nuts is knowing the precise moment when they should be lifted out of the oil since they continue cooking as they cool and may end up burnt.

At the wet markets in Singapore and Malaysia, the dry goods stall carries 2 types of ground-nuts which look rather similar. The only difference being a slight difference in size. The smaller size ground-nut is of Indonesian origin whilst the other larger ground-nut has Chinese origins. The smaller one is more suited to dry-roasting and deep-frying whilst the larger ground-nut is meant more for soup as it will soften with boiling. Photo below shows these 2 types of ground-nuts.

Just follow the simple steps below. Don’t give up as practice makes perfect!

STEP 1. Fill a thick bottom pot or saucepan with about 2 to 3 cm of cooking oil. Heat pot over medium high heat till the temperature of the oil is about 160C. It takes about 5 to 10 mins to reach this temperature and you will see slight wave movements in the oil. NOTE: If your oil is smoking, it is too hot and you will end up burning the ground nuts. Remove pot from fire and let it cool down for several mins before re-heating.

If you don’t possess an instant read thermometer (an expensive tool but I gave in and very recently acquired one), one way to test the oil temperature is by dropping a few ground nuts into the oil. It should look like the photo above. If not, just heat oil a little longer and test the oil temperature again.

HINT: When deep frying, it is best to choose oils with higher smoke points. For instance, for Sunflower oil it is 246C; for Soya Bean oil – 241C; for Canola oil – 238C and Corn oil – 236C. Olive oil’s smoke point is 190C and oil from animal fat is lower.

STEP 2. Add just enough ground nuts to cover the bottom of the pot. Do not overcrowd as this will cause oil temperature to drop too quickly and affect the quality of the fried ground nuts – retains too much oil. If you are frying 500 gm in a medium size pot, divide it into at least 2 lots.

If the temperature is correct, the peanuts will cause the oil to bubble, sizzle like the photo above.

STEP 3. In about 5 mins, your ground nuts should look like the colour above. The colour must be a few shades lighter than the colour of  the ground nut you eat as a snack as it will continue to cook under its own heat as it cools and turn much darker.

Besides the colour, cooked ground nuts also split.

STEP 4. Note that the colour darkens rather quickly as it cools.

STEP 5. It is best to lift the fried ground nuts onto a paper towel for more absorption of oil as it cools.

Serving suggestions

As snacks with beer.

  • sprinkle a bit of salt and/or garlic powder whilst they are still hot and leave them to cool;
  • The photo below shows a dish of Deep Fried Ground nuts and Ikan Bilis. This side dish is also served with Nasi Lemak which is a popular breakfast food in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

Deep Fried Ground-nuts are also used as one of the toppings for popular breakfast foods sold at local wet markets and Food Courts, viz.. Steamed Chinese Glutinous Rice (see photo below), Fried Bee Hoon, and Rice Congee.


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