The Tradition of Peanuts in Mexican Cuisine

The Tradition of Peanuts in Mexican Cuisine

For those without a stubborn peanut allergy, these tasty and crunchy snacks are a common household item for various reasons. Understanding their tradition can make all the difference when it comes to enjoying them as a snack or in the kitchen. While the origin and story have many takes and tales, Mexican cuisine is a significant source of decedent peanut offerings. Here, we celebrate their story and showcase some of the most delicious peanut treats available.

The Roots

The dispute about the origin of peanuts is wildly indecisive. Many believe the peanuts were imported from Brazil to West Africa and disbursed from there. But the heart of the matter is that it is up for debate. Culinary anthropologist Sophie Coe claims no peanuts were outside of South America.

There were roughly 15 different species of peanuts residing in Bolivia, which is where they got their domestic roots. From there, they spread into the Caribbean, Brazil, and Tehuacan, Mexico. Tehuacan is an ancient community located in the southern part of Puebla, where the Earth’s oldest kernels of corn came to the surface.

Spaniards built a collection of convents in Puebla, and these convents housed the daughters of some of the richest Spanish colonists. The convents quickly became the birthplace of some of Mexico’s most infamous culinary offerings, such as mole poblano and chiles en nogada. These specialties use a healthy amount of peanuts to give them their prized characteristics.

The convent’s nuns preferred to use the peanuts for sweet treats, which are still popular and enjoyed in Mexican cuisine and throughout Puebla. Almendrados, typically made with almonds, uses peanuts as a substitute and combines nuts, flour, and honey for a sweet indulgence. Turrones is a nougat-like confection similar to almendrados but combines egg white, honey, and nuts.

The Flower

Enjoying the early dishes with peanuts was easy, but the Spaniards always had a certain level of curiosity about the growth and harvest of the nuts. The peanut plant is also known as Arachis hypogaea and grows tall like a beanstalk with a sprouted white flower. Once the white flowers go through fertilization, they will sweep down to the ground, where the fruits will grow.

This growing process always left the Spaniards confused about how the flower and the fruit could be in two separate phases or locations. The underground phase in Nahuatl is tlal-cacahuatl, which means earth-cocoa. This is where the Spanish cacahuate comes from.

Today’s Traditions

In modern times, peanuts make their way into many traditional dishes and offerings from candy, beverages, moles, roasted with chiles, or accompanied by cocktails and beer. A standard practice in Mexican cuisine is squeezing the juice of a lime over a plate of seasoned nuts. Though it’s on the messy side, it’s a savory and thrilling combination.

Let’s explore traditional Mexican cuisine favorites with peanuts and inspire you to bring them to life in your kitchen!

Salsa Macha

In 2020, salsa macha received its highest honor as the most valuable condiment. And yes, peanuts play a significant role in bringing this salsa to life. It’s fiery, crunchy, and most of all, unique. Every bite offers a taste of tradition and a snap of culinary perfection.

Because it’s incredibly versatile, it is easy to recreate and put your own spin on it. But in Mexican cuisine, the peanut salsa macha is a one-of-a-kind treat that accompanies many meals. It’s important to note you will not use tomatoes or a tomato base to create this; instead, oil, peanuts, garlic, and onions are the stars of this condiment.

Botana de Cacahuates

Botana de Cacahuates is a traditional street snack, and you can find it throughout Oaxaca City. To translate, this means peanut snacks. What’s essential to remember when preparing this snack is after peeling the garlic, you will eat it like the peanuts instead of chopped or minced. It is often served hot, but you can enjoy it just the same room temperature.

The core ingredients include:

  • Vegetable oil or lard
  • Shelled, raw nuts with the skins intact
  • Garlic cloves with the skin intact
  • Tiny chiles or chile pequin
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Fresh lime juice

Mazapan de Cacahuate

Mazapan de cacahuate is a Mexican peanut candy. But instead of the peanuts being a crunchy and zippy bite, they are a smooth, sweet confection. Peanuts contain a natural oil, and when you grind them up, this oil brings a lot of depth to the candies. It’s incredibly simple because all you need is skinned, unsalted peanuts and confectioner’s sugar. The key to this recipe, since it’s only two ingredients, is grinding the peanuts in a food processor until the peanut oil releases and creates a paste-like substance. This process may take the longest depending on the processer.

Fill a cake pan with your paste-like spread and use your hands to compact it together like a cake. Once the candy settles, you can cut it into small bite-sized squares and wrap it in cellophane like small candies. Ensure you twist the ends to secure the candy.

Toritos de Cacahuate

Another popular offering from the heart of Veracruz is a traditional peanut cocktail called Toritos de Cacahuate. What’s unique about toritos is that they can be made with or without a milk base, and a variety of milk bases pair well. It’s relatively easy to recreate because of how abundant we are in these ingredients.

You want to avoid any peanut butter labeled as chunky because you want a smooth, creamy finish. The key ingredients include:

  • Condensed milk
  • Evaporated milk
  • Smooth peanut butter of your choice
  • Vanilla extract
  • Cane liquor or 96-proof alcohol

You’ll combine all the ingredients in the blender until smooth and well-blended. You may add a preferred fruit like mango or guava if you like it sweeter.

Peanuts play a significant role in the tradition of Mexican cuisine. From their South American roots to their flowering discoveries, much of the culinary specialties of Mexico would not work without these crunchy and tasty nibbles.

To learn more about the most valuable condiment and to get your hands on authentic Mexican salsa macha, reach out to Don Emilio today! We offer various pairings and uniquely divine kitchen necessities for all meals and dishes, from breakfast to dinner and everything in between.

The Tradition of Peanuts in Mexican Cuisine