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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Đậu Phộng Da Cá (Crispy Fried Peanuts)

Every year around this time, my house would be filled with quince and soft apricot blossoms and red envelopes dangling from their branches. The aroma of homemade Tết food permeates every corner . My girls adorned in áo dài (Vietnamese traditional dress) through out the week would chase each other around the house occasionally practicing a few broken Vietnamese New Year wishes. Well, the year of the Horse is fast approaching in a few days but there's hardly any signs of Tết to be found around the house - except of my mother-in-law's bánh ú!

I feel lazy, mostly from having to fend off a bout of upper respiratory infection and hosting my sister's recent visit. The guilt, however, of not preparing anything for Tết is killing me inside. I needed to muster up some motivation so I can make something for Tết for my family to enjoy.  More importantly, I wanted my girls to carry this joyful Vietnamese tradition in their hearts forever. 

My first inclination was to make Bánh Phục Linh (Pandan with Coconut Milk Tapioca Cookies).  So I  collected all the ingredients, but when I reached into my tool box, I realized I don't have the cookie mold. I was so disappointed, but fortunately my sister's mother-in-law who was visiting us from Texas came to the rescue with a different idea:  Đậu Phộng Da Cá.  According to my husband's loose interpretation,  Đậu Phộng Da Cá means Fish Skin Peanuts aptly named for the texture of the outer coating. I hope he didn't make it up as he knows how gullible I am (I'm sure y'all will keep him honest).

We made a batch together and it was a hit.  The combination of peanuts soaked in salt and sugar then coated with layers of flour to create that perfect crunch makes it irresistible I think.

Today after my little sous chef got home from kindergarten, we made a couple more batches of Đậu Phộng Da Cá so that I can perfect a recipe to post just in time for Vietnamese new year and Super Bowl XLVIII. As I was frying the peanuts, my sous chef kept coming to the peanut tray and grabbing handfuls of them.  I had to tell her to save her tummy for dinner, but she replied in Vietnamese, "Đậu Ngon!" meaning "delicious peanuts" as she scuttled away. My older daughter tasted it and said, " It's not good mommy . . . it's great!" See what I have to put up with?!

Below is the simple recipe for this delicious treat.  Add cayenne the same time with sugar and salt to spice it up or toss in some garlic powder if you so incline. I suppose cinnamon flavor would be wonderful too!
RECIPE: Đậu Phộng Da Cá

2 bags Redskin Peanut, 12 oz each bag
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Sugar
Self Rising All Purpose Flour
Frying Oil

Preparing Peanut

Separate the half peanuts and the skin flakes from the whole peanuts. Only use whole peanuts.

Wash peanuts gently by dipping a strainer bowl of peanuts into another bowl of water so that the red skin will not separate from the peanuts.

Drain it well. It's okay if the peanuts are moist but not too wet. Excessive water can lead to clumping when flour is added. Transfer peanuts into a bowl. 
Mixing Peanuts with Sugar and Salt

Add sugar and salt into the peanut bowl. Mix gently. Let it sit for at least an hour until sugar and salt melt and absorb into the peanuts.
Mixing Peanuts Mixture with Flour

Sprinkle a few tablespoons of self rising flour into the peanut bowl and gently mix it with a spatula. I used a flour sifter instead. 

Continue sprinkling flour into the peanut bowl until peanuts are coated evenly with a thick white layer of flour. 

Transfer peanuts into a straining bowl and shake off the extra flour.

Frying Peanuts

Bring a frying pan with cooking oil and a couple of smash garlic to a medium heat until fragrant. Discard garlic. Adjust the heat to medium-low. 

Carefully add 1 cup or 1 rice bowl of peanuts at a time into the oil pan using a strainer spoon/ladle to dip the peanuts into the oil. Stir the peanuts often to prevent clumping and allow for even browning. Fry for about 4 minutes until the peanuts turn golden.

Remove peanuts from the oil with a strainer spoon/ladle.

Spread them on a paper towel tray to drain off the oil.  Continue working on the next batch until done. 

Serve your guests these delicious peanuts while sipping hot tea on New Year's days. I'm sure it's great with a cold bottle of your favorite beer as well. What can be better than watching the Super Bowl and munching on these delicious, crispy - and might I say addicting - treat?!


  1. Are you using regular all-purpose flour or self-rising all purpose flour in your recipe? You mentioned in your facebook post that it is the regular ap flour. Again, thank for posting the recipe

    1. The first time I made it, I used regular all purpose flour. This time, I used self rising all purpose flour. Either one is fine.

  2. How much are the 2 bags of peanuts? I have a huge bag of redskin peanuts from the Asian market on sale and this is the perfect way to use them but I'm wondering how many cups or ounces 2 bags of peanuts equals. Cám ơn!

  3. Ms Loan, this recipe reminds me so much of my time at Le Quy Don High school in Saigon. I would save up "li xi" money and spent it feverishly on dau phung da ca at the tiny shop in the school during lunch. Gosh, the memory comes rushing back to me....

    By the way, your husband is not pulling your legs in calling these peanuts "dau phung da ca". Happy New Year to you and your family.