How might one improve the salty crunch of roasted peanuts? Fry them, then eat ’em―shell and all.
Deep-fried whole peanuts are a triumph of texture. The shell is a bit fibrous, but mostly crunchy. And once you bite through the shell, there’s a second crunchy hit from the nut itself. The first mouthful of shell might disconcert after years of shelling ballpark peanuts. But that feeling passes, because deep-fried peanuts’ many crannies make them a magnificent salt-and-fat delivery system. Although salted and fried peanuts are plenty flavorful, producers also fry peanuts with Cajun spice, salt-and-vinegar, and Old Bay seasoning.
Roasted peanuts are a favorite snack around the world. But in the American South, other cooking methods are equally prominent. Boiled peanuts, which resemble beans in flavor and texture, can be found in steaming kettles at just about any gas station convenience store from Mississippi to Virginia. Unlike their boiled counterparts, however, the delights of deep-fried peanuts have not spread far and wide. For now, they’re a minor regional snack food, made and distributed throughout the peanut belt, primarily in the Carolinas.
You can deep-fry at home, too, with fresh peanuts and the oil of your choice. Sentimentalists recommend peanut oil, of course.
Need to Know
If you're not ready for the responsibilities of owning and operating a deep fryer, you can find deep-fried peanuts in the Carolinas. Or you can order them online from a producer like Uncle Bud's of Chattanooga, Tennessee.