It’s pretty much impossible to spend any real time in Hawaii without coming across boiled peanuts. Along with poke, boiled peanuts are a classic happy hour pupu (appetizer) and I can never seem to get enough of them. When I’m on Oahu, I stop by Tamura’s where there’s an awesome selection of booze, poke, and boiled peanuts. But I started getting annoyed that I was spending money on boiled peanuts since they require nothing more than a few ingredients and a few hours.
A word about boiled peanuts: they have a long history as a snack in the Southern US, in China, and, in Hawaii (likely brought over by Chinese immigrants), yet each region is slightly different. Southerners boil their peanuts in salt and sometimes add in a ham hock, some chiles, or some Cajun spices. Chinese-style peanuts have star anise which lends an exotic taste that I way prefer. Hawaiian peanuts are similar to Chinese style but made with Hawaiian sea salt, which gives it a unique taste.
Rinse the peanuts then place in a large pot cover with water and soak for 30 minutes to 12 hours (you may need to use a pot top, plate, or resealable plastic bag filled with water to help keep the peanuts submerged). The longer you soak the peanuts, the less time they’ll need to simmer so I’d recommend going longer if you have the time.
Drain the soaking water, cover the peanuts with fresh water, add the remaining ingredients and stir. Bring to a boil over medium heat. When it boils, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring every 15 minutes.
Start checking the peanuts after 1 hour of cooking. Remove one peanut from the liquid, let it cool slightly then peel it open and taste the peanut it’s done when it has the texture of a cooked bean. You may need up to 2 hours total. You’re only going for the cooked texture at this point so don’t worry too much about flavor.
Remove the peanuts from the heat and let cool in cooking water for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Drain and store refrigerated until ready to eat.
Don’t skip this step because it’s essential to helping the peanuts get fully seasoned. These taste best when consumed within 7 days.
Raw peanuts can be hard to find but I’ve had good luck finding them in health food stores, Asian markets, and at farmer’s market; though you could also order them online. The classic Hawaiian way would be to simmer these with just the salt and star anise but I like the spicy kick the ginger and peppercorns add. If you’ve never had them before, go ahead and skip the ginger and peppercorns so you get a more authentic experience.