Going Nuts

Fresh peanuts hit the markets

Boiled peanuts are a familiar snack in much of the South, where they're sold at gas stations and eaten at state fairs.

Not so in the Bay Area, though the tender, creamy legumes–more beanlike then nut when fresh–are suddenly turning up on menus around town:

Boxing Room in Hayes Valley serves iron cauldrons of Cajun-style peanuts, boiled in water spiked with hot sauce, onions, garlic and spices ($5), and you can get a side of peanuts with your bucket of fried chicken at The Front Porch ($3) in the Mission.

Chef Bruce Hill picked up some fresh peanuts last week at the Civic Center farmer's market; he plans to use them as a delicate garnish for fish crudo at SoMa's Zero Zero. He thinks the gentle nuttiness of boiled peanuts mimics sesame, a classic pairing with raw tuna.

Local: Mission Eatery sous chef Andy Henderson hails from Charleston, South Carolina; he boils his peanuts with jalapeño peppers and smoky bacon rinds until they're imbued with porky goodness ($5).

Should you want to make boiled peanuts at home, Berkeley Bowl has fresh peanuts ($3 per pound), and the Chue family will be bringing the new crop to their stand at the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market this weekend ($3 per pound). The season is expected to last for at least another month.