During my trip to Bolivia, what an incredible discovery it was to find a well-known recipe that uses raw, ground peanuts (groundnuts) as cream. Although traditionally hand-ground in a “batán” between stones, an almost similar effect can be produced in a blender. The peanut cream comes out pure white and smooth, smooth, smooth.
As a nutritionist, I appreciate peanuts for the excellent quality of oil (similar chemically to olive oil), for the high protein content, and a source of iron, calcium and folate. But never, ever did I suspect that using them unroasted would produce such a light-flavored, luscious cream substitute.
Although I am not vegan or even strictly vegetarian, I realize what a wonderful ecological find peanuts are. The amount of water needed to cultivate them is minimal, compared to that needed for dairy cows.
So, if peanuts have perhaps mainly been a snack to eat out of your hand, here we have a completely new way of using them, an Andean way. By cooking them, they become a magical substance.
I have just begun to experiment with this peanut cream and I´m amazed at how well a French-inspired fish and white wine preparation came out. Really, there was no need for cow´s cream. Please do experiment and let me know what you create with this magical, vegan cream.
½ cup unroasted peanuts/groundnuts
1½ cups hot water
Cover the peanuts with about 1 cup of hot water and soak for at least 20 minutes. Discard the soaking water.
If the peanuts are not peeled, peel them, slipping off the brown skin between your fingers.
Place in a blender with a cup and a half of fresh, hot water and blend at highest speed for at least 2 minutes, to produce a 100 percent smooth liquid with no pieces of peanuts.
Pour into a heavy small pot and gently bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring from time to time for at least 10 to 15 minutes or until the “cream” has no raw flavor and a shiny film begins to appear on top of the cream (similar to what happens when you heat whole milk). Simmer a few minutes longer if you want a thicker sauce.
You can also freeze the cream in ice cube trays. When you want a bit of cream in whatever you may be preparing, pop a few cubes in.
Yields about 1 cup.
Alternative uses for the magical peanut cream:
1. cream substitute
2. to thicken any sauce, stew, soup or gravy
3. with pressed garlic and lemon as a dip
4. mayonnaise substitute with lemon and Dijon mustard