I travelled to Oaxaca in late August. I’d never been to this part of Mexico, and we wanted to try a Spanish language “almost immersion” school. When I returned home, friends here in Seattle asked me about the the food. Madukkarai Oh…the food. Even if Oaxaca didn’t have such friendly, nice people and art and sites and accommodations and a lovely Spanish school, I would go just for the world class food. Let’s just say it totally changed my take on Mexico and Central American cuisine. We ate terrific meals in unassuming restaurants that rivaled those in top European cities, yet the food cost was substantially less.
I loved that in most restaurants once we ordered a meal, some type of “on the house” hors d’oeuvres were served. This might be fresh bread rolls with some type of spread, olive tapenade, salsa and tortillas…
But the one item that was presented over and over again? Cacahuites. Pronounced ka ka wåh tayz. Basically Spanish peanuts, roasted with a touch of oil and salt, topped while warm with cayenne and accompanied by fresh lime wedges to squeeze on top. Suffice it to say that regardless of the quantity served or what we ordered to follow, there was never one peanut left in the bowl.
I’m giving you the quantity we made for four of us at night as an appetizer with drinks, but you can easily double, triple or quadruple this. It tastes great along with beer or an icy beverage. I warn you, between the salt and chili you’ll be thirsty!
Cacahuates Oaxaqueños con Chile y Ajo
(Oaxacan style peanuts with chilis and garlic)
- 2 cups Spanish peanuts (the kind with the skins on)-salted or not
- 6 large cloves of peeled garlic, cut into about 8 pieces
- 1 tsp olive oil
- ½ tsp fine sea salt to sprinkle at the end unless the peanuts are salted
- ⅛ tsp cayenne sprinkled on top once they come out of the oven
- 1 lime, cut into three wedges
Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 300 degrees.
In a small bowl stir together peanuts, oil and garlic slivers until everything is coated. It’s not very much oil, but it’s enough. Put this peanut mix into a foil or parchment-lined cookie sheet (I do this in my toaster oven). Bake for 20 minutes. The room should smell of garlic and roasted peanuts. Remove to a bowl, let the peanuts cool slightly so they can be handled and serve, topping the nuts with salt (unless they are already salted) and cayenne. Have lime wedges for your eaters to squeeze on top of the peanuts before eating them.
Repeat often… These are addictive! And stay tuned for more stories about my time in Oaxaca