The Nutty Oil

Picture of peanut oilFor centuries, peanuts have played an important role in the cuisines of many cultures.

The humble legume sometimes referred to as ‘goober pea’ or ‘groundnut’, can be used in many forms.

One of the most important culinary commodities produced from peanuts, is cooking oil. Each day, millions of people around the world use peanut oil in their kitchens.

It could be best described as clear oil pressed from peanuts, used in salad dressings and especially prized for its frying qualities.

Peanut oil has a high smoke point (approximately 232oC), which is super-hot and great for wok frying. Because of the high smoke point, peanut oil can cook food quickly and very crisp, without burning and tasting bitter.

However, there is another kind of unrefined Chinese peanut oil which is darker in colour, has a distinctive peanut flavour and a much lower smoke point (approximately 160oC).

Unrefined peanut oil is a cold, first-pressed variety – much like a good quality extra virgin olive oil. It can taste a little strong though.

Modern high oleic variety peanuts produce oil with higher levels of mono-unsaturated fatty acids. It’s believed this makes the oil healthier because mono-unsaturated fatty acids have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels.

Peanut oil has a long shelf life compared with many other oils, as high polyunsaturated fatty acids are prone to oxidation and spoilage.

So, before you fry your next meal in lashings of rendered animal fat (with a complimentary cardiac arrest in every serve), consider peanut oil as a healthier alternative.

Thai Beef and Glass Noodle Salad

  • 80ml lime juice
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 20ml extra virgin peanut oil
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 small red chilies, finely chopped
  • 2 rib fillet, 200 g each
  • 150g mixed leaf lettuce
  • ½ red onion, finely sliced
  • 15g coriander leaves, torn
  • 7g  mint leaves, torn
  • 250g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber
  • 150g toasted peanut
  • 50g glass noodles, soaked
  1. Mix together the lime juice, fish sauce, palm sugar, garlic, chopped coriander, lemon grass and chilli until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Preheat a barbecue char Grill to medium-high direct heat and cook the steaks for 4 minutes or until medium.
  3. Let the steaks cool slightly, and then slice thinly across the grain.
  4. Put the salad leaves, onion, coriander leaves, mint, tomatoes, cucumber and peanuts in a large bowl, add the beef and dressing, toss them together and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Note: This recipe can be adjusted to suit the individuals taste. Adding some smaller birds eye chillies with the seeds left in will make a more potent spicy version. Garlic can be left out if preferred. Fresh coriander can be added for a more Thai style of sauce. The additional spices such as cinnamon, cloves and allspice can add for an interesting twist.

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