|A peanut plant|
Note also that Taiwanese for peanuts is T'o-dao (土豆, not to be confused with potatoes, also so called, except pronounced twu-dou in some parts of China).
The many uses of peanuts actually boggle the mind. The simplest way to prepare peanut-in-a-shells is to steam or roast them, with no artificial anything added. After the hulls are removed, then further processing is limited only by imagination. Since the kernels wear a red coat (called testa) and each peanut kernel has two halves with a tiny germ at the tip, decisions must be made to either leave the coat on, remove the germs, in whole or in halves, all depending on the purposes. Picture is worth a thousand words, so we here will only add some background info:
(1) With the coat on: The traditional Tamsui way of roasting peanuts is by frying them in a wok with a mixture of rice-grain-sized stones (to retain heat) and sea salt (for flavor). The peanuts would end up with fine salt powder adhering onto the surfaces. Since these stones are no longer available, peanuts are now fried directly in salt grains or in peanut oil (then sprinkled with salt, below).
(2) With the coat off： These can be roasted first followed by removal of the skin, or more commonly, raw peanuts with no skin slow-cooked into a soup with sugar added to make an inter-meal snack:
|Peanut soup, always sweetened|
(3) As desserts: These come in two kinds, 花生糖 (kernels in caramelized sugar, with or without the coats), and 花生酥 (powdered peanuts mixed with flour and powdered sugar).
|Candy peanuts 花生糖|
|Peanut folds 花生酥, usually wrapped in rice paper|
Of course peanuts can also be a component of various dishes, in stewed pork belly cubes known as 5-flowered (marbled) meat 五花肉, for example. Peanut butter on the other hand has never been a popular choice, often used by unscrupulous merchants to pad up the much more expensive sesame pastes.
It is also interesting to note that, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, peanut coat preparations are good for managing anemia. And, putatively, peanut oil extracted from the germ parts is rich in vitamin E. Caveat emptor, though.