One of the best spots where I enjoy an al fresco snack or meal is our own patio here at home. We enjoy it in the spring, summer and early fall in the east coast. The other night, while waiting for our dinner to cook on the grill, I served a platter of Adobong Mani, peanuts cooked in garlic, a very favorite snack or appetizer of many Filipinos.
Adobong mani (say ‘ah-doh-bong mah-nee’) translates to peanuts cooked the adobo way. If you haven’t had this yet, it means the peanuts (usually raw) are pan fried in hot oil that’s been flavored with a lot of garlic. Adobong mani is street food in the Philippines. It is commonly sold in most street corners. There is always a street vendor lurking in the sides, carrying a large “bilao” (say ‘bee-lah-oh’) which is a round, flat, shallow basket lined with banana leaves or old newspapers. The Adobong Mani’s garlicky fragrance lures you into buying a bag, usually about 8 oz. in each.
When we were children, our parents brought us every summer to Baguio City, the summer capital of the Philippines. It is a city located atop mountains. It was a 3 hour-drive from Tarlac, our home town. I looked forward to those family vacations. Baguio city in the summer had cool, pleasant weather hovering in the 60 to 70 F degrees. It was a respite from the hot, humid, 100 F temperatures typical of Philippine summers. But what I enjoyed best was going everyday to Burnham Park. Back then, we would stroll leisurely as a family through the park, sometimes enjoy a boat ride on the lake of the park. Or else we just sat on the park bench to enjoy the scenery and cool weather. But what made it perfect was when the peanut vendor, with her large ‘bilao’ would approach us and sell us a bag.
I cannot forget the aroma of the garlic from the peanuts. The little brown nuts glistened as the seller scooped a cupful to pour into a brown bag. I can still hear the sound the peanuts made as they were poured into the bag – it was like heavy droplets of rain on a roof, which grew faint as the brown bag filled up. I held on to the warm brown bag of peanuts till we could find an empty park bench. We shared the bag, as a family, the four of us. I can still feel the grainy texture of the salt that encased the peanuts, and later I even remember I licked the salt from my hands. It was sheer bliss to feel the cool breeze on my cheeks, while we indulged on that bag of salty, garlicky Adobong Mani.
Decades later, on our porch, on summer nights, I try to recreate that moment and the simple pleasure of enjoying a plateful of garlic peanuts. Some things just stay with you forever.
Peanuts in Garlic - Filipino Adobong Mani
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 6 cloves garlic peeled
- 2 cups unsalted peanuts bottled
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- Using a large skillet or wok, over medium high heat, add the cooking oil. When oil is hot enough after about 2 minutes, add the garlic cloves. Pan fry the garlic for 1 to 2 minutes till they are crisp and brown. Do not allow the garlic to burn or it will affect the taste of the peanuts. Do not leave the stove unattended, the garlic can burn in seconds. Once crisp and brown, remove the garlic from the pan and drain on paper towels to remove excess oil. Set aside.
- To the large skillet with the cooking oil that’s been flavored with garlic, add the peanuts. Stir around every few minutes. Lower the heat to a medium low. Stir and cook peanuts for about 10 to 12 minutes till they turn a slightly darker hue. Do not leave unattended or the peanuts can burn.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove cooked peanuts and drain on a bowl lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle salt, black pepper and sugar over the peanuts. Add the crisp garlic cloves and mix into the peanuts.
- Cook's comments: most Filipino recipes for Adobong Mani use raw peanuts which have a thin, transparent outer skin. I did not have access to raw peanuts so I used store-bought unsalted bottled peanuts. When cooked, the peanuts had the same irresistible savory flavors.
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Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
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