Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Recipe: Korean-style spicy walnuts

This recipe taught me the real trick to flavoring nuts without grease: coat the nuts with egg while before coating them with the seasoning. The resulting nuts might not look as pretty as spiced nuts made with a coating of oil but they aren't as messy, especially on your guest's fingers.
"God gives the nuts, but he does not crack them." —Franz Kafka

(Tammy Quackenbush photo)


I used Japanese curry powder in this recipe. Don't be alarmed that I'd refer to a recipe that uses Japanese curry as "Korean-style." A Korean friend of mine once asked me what I thought the difference was between Japanese and Korean curry powder.

"Very little," I replied.

"You're right; it was a trick question," he said.

Curry powders packaged in Korea and Japan have very similar flavor profiles, but the Japanese powder is more readily available in American grocery stores.

Korean bamboo salt is a more esoteric ingredient. The recipe for it goes back about 1,000 years in the nation's history. [Read more about the labor-intensive process in "Science backs health boasts about Korean bamboo salt."] The cost of the final product increases exponentially with each cycle of refinement.

I can't recommend using Korean nine-times-refined Bamboo salt for basic cooking due to its cost. However, do a little research on it, and you'll find that the more expensive Bamboo salt refined to that degree has a lot of medicinal value.

Korean-style spicy curry walnuts

Inspired by Rivertree Kitchen's recipe for Sweet-Salty-Spicy Nuts

3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoon Korean bamboo salt
3/4 teaspoon Japanese spicy curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
pinch of black pepper, ground
1 egg white
2 cups walnuts, halved (or your favorite nuts)
  1. Heat the oven to 325° F. Lightly oil a cookie sheet, or prepare a stick-resistant surface. (I use a Silpat baking mat on the metal cookie sheet.)
  2. Stir the sugar, salt and spices in a small bowl.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the egg white until it's foamy. (It will look like spit — disgusting but true.)
  4. Stir in the nuts until each is coated in egg white.
  5. Fold nuts into the seasoning mix until completely coated.
  6. Scatter the coated nuts evenly on the baking surface.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes.
  8. Stir the nuts well. Bake them for another 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. Allow the nuts to cool on the baking sheet. Stir them occasionally until there’s no residual heat left and the nuts are crisp. Then they're ready to eat.

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