Apr 11

Peanut sesame brittle, Chinese-style

As we approached this guy from far away, I thought he was mak­ing rice crispy treats. But we soon hit a wall of aro­mas that included the sugar, peanuts and sesame at their purest– and my ideas of a chewy rice crispy treat were quick to be dis­pelled. But I was not dis­ap­pointed for long, as I imme­di­ately rec­og­nized the ‘candy’ that he had dis­played in front of him as the Chi­nese ver­sion of peanut brittle.

With a small portable range set up in the back cor­ner of his stall, among sacks of white sugar (not quite the safest setup, I noted), I watched as Brit­tle Man stirred a piping-hot wok full of sugar syrup with a flat wooden pad­dle. With­out any other tools– no ther­mome­ter, no mea­sur­ing uten­sils, no fancy stir­ring gad­gets– he mixed peanuts and sesame seeds in with the sugar until a firm-yet-malleable con­sis­tency formed. Trans­fer­ring his pip­ing hot con­coc­tion to a flat table, he whipped out two mas­sive blunt cleavers and pushed the peanut-sesame mix­ture back and forth, fold­ing it over itself again and again. As the stuff began to cool, Brit­tle Man pat­ted and formed it into a large thin sheet, finally scor­ing the sur­face lightly with thin lines.

We pur­chased a small Ziploc full of brit­tle for a snack– it tasted like peanuts and sesame and sugar-precisely what I expected. The thinly-scored brit­tle sur­face allowed us to eas­ily break off thin pieces, and we munched on the square rods of brit­tle as if they were pret­zel sticks.

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