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When the food comes near, the scenario brightens up – even for a secret agent and even if, at first, it's merely a few little nuts that are served up.

Marinated Peanuts

Many restaurants in Beijing serve marinated peanuts – some allow the nuts to marinate for a few hours in a refined sauce, others simply drizzle a layer of Chingkiang vinegar over the nuts. Here, we pass on a recipe for marinated peanuts that secret agent Hektor Maille was served as a starter by chef Ren Zilin on a hot evening in Beijing

In Beijing's restaurants, incidentally, one eats the nuts bit by little bit with chopsticks – something that prevents one from easily spoiling one's appetite with a surfeit of them.

Ingredients (for 2 to 4 persons)

100 g peanuts, roasted and peeled, but not salted

3 tablespoons light soy sauce

2 pods garlic, finely chopped (or pressed if a stronger taste is desired)

1 tablespoon clear, milde vinegar from rice or cereals

2 tablespoons Chingkiang rice vinegar

1 tablespoon Shào Xīng rice wine

½ teaspoon black pepper, ground

½ teaspoon sichuan pepper, roasted and finely ground

½ teaspoon sugar


  1. Mix thoroughly in a bowl all ingredients for the sauce – soy sauce, garlic, clear mild vinegar, Chingkiang vinegar, rice wine and pepper.
  2. Marinate the peanuts in the sauce for 3 hours in the sauce at room temperature or in the refrigerator, stirring them from time to time. During this time the nuts will soak up most of the sauce.
  3. Remove the remaining sauce and serve the peanuts on a flat little plate.

In Europe, peanuts are usually roasted and salted. Unsalted peanuts are available almost exclusively in reform houses or in Asian stores. If you can find only salted peanuts, reduce the quantity of soy sauce by half.

Those who eat the marinated peanuts bit by bit with chopsticks will not end up overeating them.

More about the travel adventure of Secret Agent Hektor Maille:

While eating the items of this menu on a hot evening in the restaurant of Ren Zilin in central Beijing, Hektor Maille finds out why the dragon trail had failed to yield any results earlier:

First Publication: 6-10-2009

Modifications: 23-1-2011, 18-6-2011, 13-11-2011, 12-12-2011