Remember those walnuts I bought from the local community centre in Angaston? They were sitting on my bench making the kitchen look very rustic but had yet to make it into a recipe and the situation was getting urgent. Not only did I need my bench space back but with summer just around the corner, I didn’t want to waste these beautiful nuts by letting them go rancid. It was like having the most precious ingredient in the world and wanting to use it so many ways but being paralysed with choice. I had thought about a cake and had even selected a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe but the opportunity to bake it and take it to a party has passed and still the walnuts sat on the bench.
I took decisive action on Friday night, shelling and weighing them. There was 250g of walnut halves and quarters which gave me the chance to make something that’s been knocking around in my mind for the past 25 years or so. Honey Walnuts. Not just any honey walnuts but walnuts with a twist from the Women’s Weekly Chinese Cooking Class Cookbook. I recently re-visited the WW Chinese Cooking Class Cookbook as part of a Random Recipes Challenge #19 and re-discovered Honey Walnuts as I flicked through the book.
And All The Lovely Extras
I often used to look at the recipe in the wonderfully titled ‘…And All The Lovely Extras’ section and wonder what it would taste like. I thought ‘would soy and honey taste OK together?’. Well, of course they do and even at the time I knew they did as I would have eaten honey soy chicken but I couldn’t make the leap in my mind from savoury main to sweet salty nibble.
Fast forward 25 years and food trends and my tastes have altered significantly. Sweet and salty is hugely popular at the moment and these walnuts sit squarely in the centre of that flavour profile. So finally, I decided it was time to give them a go. The result was amazing. Sticky, salty and sweet. These are suggested as a snack to have with pre-dinner drinks but we can both attest that they taste pretty good at all hours of the day and night. So popular was the first batch that we got through them over one weekend so I made a second batch (just to be on the safe side), this time with shop bought walnuts. These were good too and whilst not quite as crunchy as the fresh walnuts, it’s going to be two years before I have the opportunity to buy fresh again so packet walnuts, almonds or pecans for that matter, are all good substitutes. It goes without saying that you should make more of these than you think you need as they will be wildly popular and make a great gift to take to dinner parties, a house-warming or at Christmas.
- 250g best Angaston Walnuts (or peanuts, pecans, almonds or a mix)
- 3/4 cup honey
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1/4 cup caster sugar
- salt flakes for sprinkling (optional)
- oil for frying
- Mix honey, soy and lemon juice together in a wide bowl
- Add nuts to mixture, stir and set aside for a few hours, stirring occasionally
- Drain nuts well, retaining syrup so you can make another batch if you wish
- Place sugar on a large plate and dredge nuts, making sure they are well coated (to be honest, I just tossed them in a separate bowl of sugar)
- Shake off excess sugar and set aside
- Heat oil in wok or deep frying pan on medium heat. The oil is ready when a test walnut starts to sizzle.
- Place walnuts into oil in small batches. Do not overcrowd the wok! (you will thank me later). Whatever you do, don’t let the sugar burn in the bottom of the wok if you are doing multiple batches. You may need to change the oil after each batch.
- The nuts brown quickly and you need to be ready to scoop them out in a flash, as soon as they are golden. It’s a fine line between golden and burned so keep an eye on things. We’re only talking moments.
- Drain the nuts on some paper towel and sprinkle with salt flakes if you’re using.
- As nuts cool, transfer to a piece of baking paper and allow to cool completely.
- Separate any that have stuck together and store in an airtight container. If you have a silica gel sachet handy, pop that in the container also, to absorb any excess moisture to keep the nuts nice and crunchy.
- Consume by the handful.