Annually Mexico manufactures approximately 30,000 tons of Japanese peanuts. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the migration of Japanese workers to the plantations and workhouses of Mexico was actively encouraged by both governments, until the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. A Japanese migrant named Yoshigei Nakatani, living in Mexico City, invented the snack we know today as the Japanese peanut.
Yoshigie emigrated from Japan in 1932 and settled initially in the city of Manzanillo. He soon fell in love, married, converted to Catholicism and started a family. In 1945 he had to leave his family for Mexico City, he set up in the Japanese quarter. The exact year that the Japanese style peanut was inventedis not clear, but it was certainly around this time. We do know that he started off from very humble beginnings, by making the peanuts himself in the morning and selling them in stall in the La Merced market and the Central de Abastos in the afternoon.
By the 1970’s production was industrial in its scale and today Japanese Peanuts are as popular as they have ever been. It is a large and shelled crunchy peanut, flavored with a delicate hint of soy sauce, which is balanced with just the right amount of salt and sugar. With an after taste that is just strong enough to leave you wanting more.
How to enjoy Japanese peanuts
There is more to Japanese peanuts than having them as an accompaniment to a few cold beers, try some of these ideas:
They make excellent peanut butter you will need to follow a recipe that suits your tastes, some like crunchy some like smooth, it is up to you.
They are perfect for salads, remember Japanese peanuts are not overwhelmingly salty and the delicate flavor compliments most salad dressings, this is a winning combo –
Mix up finely sliced red or green cabbage, 2 or 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic, a thumb size chunk of grated ginger, the fresh chilies of your choice and then Japanese peanuts. Put the lot into large salad bowl and toss with the dressing, which should contain soy sauce and olive oil.
Salads are lonely by themselves so serve with sautéed chicken, in a light peanut sauce with steamed fresh vegetables.
As snack they go a treat with hot chili sauce and lime juice
However you choose to eat your Japanese peanuts; once you’ve tried them you will agree that there are few better choices for a healthful snack or cooking ingredient.
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