Beer Snacks: So Many Ways with Peanuts

Cambodia drives me to drink. Picture: riverfront sunsets with amber rays, light grazing across cocktail-hour boats and the saffron folds of a monk’s robe. Warm breeze, jasmine air. Pedicabs and pushcarts, buzzing mopeds, rumbling trucks. Kids selling postcards and photocopied books, and a seat at the sidewalk where I can watch it all (this can be said of just about any Khmer riverside town). I sit and sip a $1 draft. It’s not the beer that draws me (the alcohol? yes… Southeast Asian beer? no). Mostly, it’s the scene.

And the peanuts.

Many regional bars and restaurants offer peanuts with drinks. Not just ordinary nuts, but snacks with pizzazz – roasted or fried with crispy garlic, whole red chiles and shreds of ginger (try making a batch the next time you entertain guests!). Sometimes a dab of sugar, always a pinch of salt. In all my years of Asian cocktails, I’ve decided I most admire the way Cambodians do their peanuts. For free.

Then again, last year I ate freebie salted peanuts with wedges of dried, crushed soybean cake at a Chinese restaurant in Myanmar’s Shan State. Those were tasty, those were different.

And I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for the Drunken Flower, a longtime Chiang Mai hangout with decent tunes and plates of peanuts with chile, salt and a heap of fresh green onion. Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum. Those nuts are on the menu, and they aren’t free, but I’ll gladly spend a few baht on them.

We’ve had nuts galore on the brain lately. In a couple of weeks, you’ll be able to read all about the Angkor Peanut Family and their little operation. And then I’ll tell you about an exciting new Rambling Spoon venture.

But first, we must head to the hinterlands, in search of ancient iron workers. Meanwhile, take a seat and drink up!

5 thoughts on “Beer Snacks: So Many Ways with Peanuts

  1. Great post. Another peanut recipe that I love involves frying them with thick slivers of garlic and lots of fresh kaffir lime leaves. The lime leaves crisp up when you fry ’em, and infuse the nuts with their citrus flavor. The garlic burns just a little. Mmmm. In the south of Thailand they sell them in bags labeled ‘herb nut.’ That’s a pretty great name for a snack.

  2. Rowdy Chowgirl, the beauty is in the moment. If only I didn’t find myself racing around so much!

    Jarrett, yes, but shhhhhhh. Soon to come: the folks who brought these snacks to Cambodia.

  3. Hi Karen,
    I just came back from Cambodia and I must say I fell in love with those peanuts! On my last day in PP, I was at Central Market, walking through the colorful little streets where they have all those wonderful sweets, veggies, fruits, meals… I had my breakfast there with noodles, than had banana sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves. When I saw the peanut stand, I had to buy some. And there is still a little left in my day pack. I must eat them before they get old!

  4. Tijen, thank you for commenting. I heard you were traveling through the region, and I hoped we might have a chance to connect (if not here now, perhaps someday in Turkey???). Now, an interesting story about the nuts you found in PP. Most likely, they were not the Angkor brand, but a competitor. Lots of history and background here, and a tantalizingly dark tale, one I will have to pursue another day. For now, however, I’ll just say my sources tell me the competitor’s recipes are indeed the same as those used by Angkor Peanuts. Either way, they are delicious.

    Where are you headed next?

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