(Almost) Everybody Loves Peanuts


Not just people, either.  Pigs have an affinity for the nut, which makes up a major part of their diet.  Unsurprisingly, perhaps, pork and peanuts pair particularly well.  It’s a culinary fact not lost on Southeast Asians, who make ample use of both in their kitchens.  Today’s offering is one such inspiration, this one from Thailand, Peanut Rice Noodles with Pork and Collard Greens.

Actually, the recipe comes from Bon Appetit‘s August 2018 issue, but Thailand is its homeland.  The noodles, ground pork and the collard greens are stir fried in a spicy, creamy peanut sauce, which imparts flavor to its wok-mates and enrobes all in a velvety coating as the liquid reduces.  Luscious.

Of course, the foregoing description isn’t the only indication of the flavors in store for tasters.  Just one look at the bright pallet indicates the vibrant experience ahead.  Also, the inspired pairings go beyond pork and peanuts, as all the parts speak to the bounty of local farms.  The farmers brought their best to the market, and chefs use them to full advantage in their kitchens.

If there’s a secret, aside from artfully combining great ingredients, it’s in cooking the noodles long enough to soften them just a bit.  They still are al dente, to borrow a term from the Italians, when they go for their final spin in the wok.  This keeps them distinct and vigorous, not gooey.

This dish will make a peanut fan of even the most resistant.  For those who already like the ground nut, the combination is sublime.  It shows how strikingly we underserve the peanut when we limit its presence to candy and morning toast, good as they are.  Could pigs know something we don’t?

*****

Peanut Rice Noodles with Pork and Collard Greens

  • salt, to taste
  • 12 ounces regular-width rice noodles, such as pad thai
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (*1)
  • 2  teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (*2)
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 (1 and 1/2-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch collard greens, central stems removed, and leaves thinly sliced

Fill a large saucepan with salted water and place it over a high flame.  When the water boils, turn off the heat and place the noodles in the saucepan.  Let the noodles sit for four minutes, stirring them occasionally.  Drain, rinse with cold running water and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes and one cup of water.  Set aside for the moment.

Set a wok over a medium flame.  When wok is hot, pour in the oil.  Add pork, and “work at it” constantly with a wooden spoon until the pork is completely broken up.  Cook pork until it’s just cooked, about five minutes, total, including the “breaking up” part.

Add the ginger and garlic, and stir frequently until they’re softened, about two minutes.  Add the collard greens and cook until just softened, another two minutes.

Add the sauce and noodles and bring to a simmer.  Toss them occasionally to coat and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about three minutes.  Season with salt and serve.

NOTES:

1 – Of course, I had palm sugar in the fridge, and I used some of it.  More authentic that way, though, honestly, “plain” brown sugar is just as good.

Of course, being an East Asian food geek, all sorts of strange ingredients populate my pantry and fridge.  Including palm sugar and the sambal oelek, not called for in the original recipe, but adding so much color and flavor.  Weird, certainly, but tasty.

2 – Peanut oil is an obvious substitute.  Not only does it complement Asian cuisines, but in this particular instance it anticipates beautifully the peanuts used in the recipe.

47 thoughts on “(Almost) Everybody Loves Peanuts

  1. the picture had me … green, noodles and nuts, extract the pork and you’ll do fine! Again a broad vocab of very seductive words to tempt and tantalize our senses 🙂

    In my teens I worked on dairy farm preparing to sell off their property to an american magnate … it’s now known as Ocean Shores! It’s quite close to where I live now but haven’t been there as the changes would break my heart. We herded up the cows as they were downsizing to a few acres with a large piggery so I was part of setting that up. I fell in love, pigs are very fussy eaters with great personalities.

    Had to take a few pigs to the Byron abattoir, which was beside their whale wharf … a part of the fab Byrons history they were keen to erase/forget! Those pigs squealed like children and I’ve never been able to eat pork since. Have to leave the house as I can’t even cope with the smell. Poor little fellas, they could smell the death a few miles out and squealed their fearful little lungs out!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A touching story, Kate, one that presses on the heart. Really, I don’t pretend to be anything other than a reluctant carnivore. Far too much a sentimentalist for the situation to be otherwise.

      I apologize for bringing you to a bad place mentally, as that’s far from what I intend for you, or for any readers.

      As you know, I do trot out at least one dessert a month, and while they often make use of eggs, cream or butter, they’re much closer to the vegetarian-friendly principles that motivate you. Every so often, too, a vegan or near-vegan dish fills the savory ranks too.

      What’s the big idea? Well, A) your influence, B) a change of pace, C) that sentimentalism referenced earlier, and D) “Wait, is this actually vegetarian? Cool!”

      Choose carefully, though I’m pushing for E) all of the above.

      Like

      1. no bad place mentally, would take a lot more than that … but did share my story with a bunch of locals in the oncology unit yesterday and brought us to nods of understanding about the true history of Byron being conveniently ‘adapted/ censored’ for its commercial tourist audience!

        Soon these memories will be erased as thoroughly as the evidence … so thanks for the trip down memory lane with your pork dish 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, Kate, I do appreciate your continued interest and commentary despite…it all.

        As mentioned previously, you’re one of the main motivations I have to try dishes you can appreciate fully, and without reservation. Still probably not as many as you’d like to see, but a fair bit more than I would’ve tried in my pre-Kate days!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. You also are formidable (i.e., a force) when you’re not challenged.

        “Formidable” usually doesn’t mean something bad, actually. It’s something outstanding, which certainly describes you, Kate!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Oh, nothing against them, Kate, and their cuisine is justifiably “formidable.”

        Interesting news on your niece. Oh, did you know my real name is Jean-Pierre, and that I own a bicycle? Just love baguettes too!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, too bad, Eliza.

      ….and better luck next time, TA.

      Eventually, something will come along to stir your imagination. Think of this as just whetting your appetite for that moment.

      Like

      1. Yep, just you wait, Eliza!

        See, I built a little time machine, went nearly a year into the future, and asked June 2021 Eliza what she fancied at that very moment. Thus, one of that month’s submissions will aim to delight.

        Ah, if only you knew now what Future Eliza will know then. Wait, what? Confused? Because I can make nether heads nor tails of what I just typed.

        Like

      2. You don’t realise just how funny and apropos what you wrote was. I need to screenshot this to show the people who know me.
        Entertaining because, I get teased about this a lot. I go through crazed. Eat primarily one food only for a while, anywhere between a day and a month or even two. Then change. You can’t buy me chocolate because I was eating them last week, it could be this week I only want chicken. Or fruit leathers- fruit leathers and sausage rolls is what I’m eating at the moment. So yeah, this comment was really funny to read. Because you didn’t know. Otherwise would just be truth, which it is.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Some great food choices, Eliza, if you ask me. You didn’t? Well, I just told you anyway.

        Fruit leathers? Perfect for a school lunchbox, circa-2nd grade, and just about spot-on now, all these years later. Nice selection!

        What else? Poultry, you say? Yes, yes, and a thousand different ways, yes! You’ve followed this blog long enough to know of my obsession. Don’t limit yourself to a month or two on the poultry, either. One or two decades at least, just to get a feel for things.

        Exploring the poultry kitchens is a great way to spend a lifetime. Indulge it, and celebrate the bird!

        Like

      4. I read your comment to a friend. The most entertaining aspect is that you didn’t know the truth of what you said.
        I get fed up of foods. Think of a hormonal, pregnant woman, that is what I’m like with food. All the time. Cravings. Only certain foods. Then add extreme fussiness, sensory issues, and an eating disorder. So yeah. My foods stay plain. I actually cough away from anything spicy. My gums peel if it’s too hot for me etc. Tmi!! Food and I go through cycles.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Sure, Eliza, I understand. I too have gone through cycles, though mine have played out over a lifetime. A few likes I had as a child haven’t carried through to adulthood. Mostly, though, are things I couldn’t stand then, but love now.

        Of course, your preferences have as much (or, probably, more) to do with the physical issues you describe, than they have to do with changing tastes. Though I do like spice (i.e., flavor), I don’t confuse that with hotness, which I generally avoid. As do you.

        Anyway, I’ll keep trying things on these pages. Some will miss the mark as far as you’re concerned, but every once in a while something may appear that piques your interest. Let’s strive for those moments, okay? Maybe, with any luck, we even may change a cycle or two.

        Like

      6. I enjoy reading all your recipes. Even though I won’t touch most. You write with humour and really well. As I think I’ve said before, I think you should make s recipe book. Because of all the add ons you’d add.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Much appreciated, Eliza! Most touching, too, you sticking with the articles, even when there’s not much appeal, cooking-wise.

        Plus, I’m moving through the Nothing-Doings at a pretty good clip. How long before that source runs dry and suddenly something good appears? It’s bound to happen sooner or later.

        Let’s hope I have something clever (I wish) to write about it too!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Really lovely! I’ve made very similar dishes in the past and have always been pleased with how wonderful they’ve tasted. Unfortunately, I haven’t been having many collards this season. I’ll blame Misfits Market, since they don’t tend to send them. I guess I’ll need to order them myself!

    We’re all peanut fans here too. Today I made everyone the classic snack ants on a log. Yummy but not half as fancy as your peanut creation! lol Sometimes I need to feed the people fast. (Plus I had an entirely excessive amount of celery on hand. 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Much appreciated, Summer!

      Actually, we can locate collards fairly consistently at the local market, thus satisfying curiosity and encouraging experimentation.

      I do recall a couple fairly recent recipes fueled by care packages the peanut people sent you. Good to read you’re not the only one in your household who actively follows the groundnut.

      Before I step up on that pedestal, I would remind you that you create three meals a day, every day, plus you keep the blog well-supplied with all sorts of inspirations. Meanwhile, I have a whole week to prepare each meal. That’d be pretty pathetic, wouldn’t it, if the week didn’t produce an occasional flourish, no?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are welcome! Yes, I was so lucky to get the peanut sponsorship. Free food has definitely been one of the benefits of becoming a dietitian.

        I’m actually planning a couple weeks of daily posts soon! Just very simple recipes based on what my analytics are telling me people typically visit for. I’m kind of looking forward to seeing how things go 🙂 Weekly posts lend themselves to more extensive kitchen projects a bit better for sure.

        We actually have a household birthday coming up in the next week, so I’ll be getting a bit of a break from the kitchen. It’s nice to get someone else to cook once in a while! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, considering, you’re the one getting a break from cooking, I’m guessing it’s you.

        Nice detecting, huh? Now whether it’s more Poirot, or Closeau, remains to be seen. Assuming I’m closer to Agatha Christie’s character, Happy Birthday!

        Posts every day for a while? That’s sounds really promising, Summer! That said, we are approaching our business’s busy time of year, meaning my free time up to Labor Day will dwindle, Which means that, while I may not have the chance to comment on every post the day it appears, I’ll savor them all in one sitting when I get some time. For me, three or four posts at one time – what a bounty!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. No, actually it’s my son’s birthday, though mine’s only a few weeks off. It was a good guess considering my name and the current season!

        He’s been missing a couple of his favorite eateries over the course of this pandemic. We’re going to be doing lunch at one and dinner at the other. Aside from making him an ice cream cake the day before, I won’t be cooking at all that day!

        I didn’t expect you to visit my site daily! Just a warning that it’s coming soon. lol I’m curious to see how it impacts my site traffic-wise. it’s just a little bit of experimentation on my part.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Whoops. Wrong again, Closeau!

        Before my blogging days, I actually knew a woman named “Autumn,” and she was born in October. Therefore, it was entirely reasonable to figure “Summer” came into this world, I don’t know, late July/early August. The logic was, I think you’ll admit, absolutely flawless. If you’re thinking of hiring me to investigate something…don’t.

        Yes, reading your first smoothie entry clued me in on the fact you’ll be going daily for a while. How thrilling for us (your readers), but how exhausting for you. Especially with an uncooperative AC. Really, Summer, all due respect to your namesake season, but is publishing every day worth a heatstroke? Then you’ll be in the hospital for who knows how long, and we’ll be deprived of our daily dose. Yep, Summer, you’ve got us good and hooked.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. But I’m making fun pandemic memories with the daily smoothies. 😂 I’d love to do daily air fryer recipes after this. Basically anything that does not involve the oven I’m game for.

        Some people post every day regularly. I don’t know how they do it! I won’t be one of those people because I definitely think a couple weeks of this will burn me out.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Oh, me too, Summer! In fact, I don’t know how you do it yourself, even in your pre-daily smoothie days. Plus, you don’t just post a bunch of photos and leave to us to figure out what the pictures mean.

        You explain (very capably) what’s going on, then explore (also capably) the nutritional benefits. Also, you do so with skill, style and true culinary flair. You manage this, what, three to five times a week? Seriously, Summer, how do YOU do it?

        Oh, I just considered, maybe we ought not gripe too loudly about the heat. Five months hence, when an ice storm takes out power lines as temperatures plummet their way below zero, and snow renders impossible any and all travel, this swelter will seem pretty awesome.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. It’s so true about the heat. I’ll miss it soon enough when I am pulling on multiple layers of clothing and putting ice grips on my boots just to leave the house!

        Honestly, it’s been a little tough lately to keep up with the extra blog posts. However, it’s temporary so I think I’ll manage! I try to keep the nutrition information on the light side but it’s time-consuming to get everything together.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Oh, Summer, I only can imagine.

        Not only do you dream up the ideas, you execute them to perfection, then photograph them to beguilement, but then you complement them with great writing.

        Wait, though, Summer, you’re not done yet. See, you’ve also got to run the numbers. You’re a dietician, after all, and that’s sort of what you do. Strike the right balance, though. Enough data to be informative, but not quite enough to waylay the easily-obsessed.

        Let me just try to do what you accomplish. “Calories? Let’s see…a lot?”

        Liked by 1 person

      9. You’re too kind. Seriously though, sometimes just knowing “a lot” or “not enough” is the perfect amount of information! Ah, I started including more nutrition information and I still have some mixed feelings about it. I know the macro counters appreciate it so for now it stays.

        Liked by 2 people

      10. I’m inclined to agree with your choice, Summer.

        Enough details to inform, to remind the world you know what you’re doing, yet sparse enough to save the number-obsessed from disappearing down their rabbit-holes.

        To me, it’s most admirable you accomplish this, on top of everything else.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. No, thank you, Tamara! Even if the recipe doesn’t make the mark (quite yet), it’ll be a good starting point. As is every recipe.

      From there, experiment, tweak and add. Before you know it, you’ll have the restaurant’s version down pat. And what fun (and how delicious) the journey getting there. Happy cooking!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I had no idea that pigs love peanuts, so thank you for that!

    My favorite Thai dish used to be pad Thai, which of course features lots of delicious peanuts. I’m ashamed to admit that I know very little about how it is made as I’ve only had it in a Thai restaurant.

    My favorite these days is massaman curry, although I still very much love pad Thai. I have a feeling I would love this dish as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, JoAnn! Good choice on the massaman curry. It certainly makes my top-ten list too.

      No shame at all in loving something despite having no real notion of how it’s made. For years, decades actually, I ordered kung pao probably a third of the time I got takeout. Until recently, though, not the foggiest as to what exactly went into it.

      Like pad thai, definitely a peanut-forward preparation. Why must we explain everything, JoAnn? Isn’t it sufficient just to savor the experience? Isn’t that enough? For most non-foodies it is. Alas…

      Oh, I think pigs seek many kinds of nuts, not just peanuts. Spain’s highly-sought Iberico hams come from pigs that, traditionally at least, foraged acorns.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, if pig lore is correct they will eat just about anything that is presented before them, which is one of the many reason my parents didn’t let us eat pork when I was a kid. I wish I could be as disciplined though, pork can be very tasty, especially bacon and sausage!

        Curry is fairly easy to make at home but when it comes to most other Asian dishes I’ve always been reluctant to make them at home as I feared getting unfavorable results. Correct ingredients and techniques take a little time and study to master… maybe I will get around to that one of these days!

        Liked by 1 person

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