The Universe always brings fellow food lovers across my path, so randomly running into Ben Justus on the streets of San Diego was no surprise. We connected over our love of a good steak and the Oysters and Pearls from The French Laundry. And then he told me about EGBOK: Everything’s Gonna Be OK, a non-profit he founded based in Cambodia where they train underprivileged young adults to be the hospitality leaders of the future .
Using food to help break the cycle of poverty? Yeah, I’m here for that.
We exchanged cards and I was drawn to the EGBOK Mission logo depicting two tiny forks, quickly pointed to my logo with its tiny spoon, and held in a high-five of excitement, as I consider these types of “signs” to be quite meaningful. Watch the amazing work they do:
I knew I wanted to help and, in turn, learn about Cambodian food, which I’ve never made before. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve eaten much Cambodian food at all. To raise funds, EGBOK has developed a Dinner for a Cause Host Kit. This step-by-step guide has everything a host needs, from a planning timeline to detailed recipes, to throw an intimate dinner party that can both raise awareness, raise funds and share traditional Cambodian culture through food.
Interested in hosting a party for EGBOK? Want to sponsor a student? Learn how you can help here.
I wish I had a space big enough to host a dinner part, but unfortunately, like my kitchen, the rest of my home is also impossibly tiny. I’m helping spread the good word of EGBOK through FMITK with this addictive recipe, developed by students of the program! These fragrant and spicy peanuts were developed by in a recipe workshop where students worked in teams and voted on their favorites. I think it’ll be your new favorite, too. I had to stop myself from eating a bowl of peanuts for dinner.
BTW, some of these ingredients may seem “albino eagle feather” and “eye of newt” to you, but you can find them in Asian grocery stores pretty easily. San Diegans, 99 Ranch or Zion Market has everything you need.
Recipe courtesy of and © EGBOK.
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 3 cups roasted, unsalted peanuts
- 20-30 kaffir lime Leaves, cut in thin strips (available fresh or frozen in Asian grocery stores)
- 1⁄2 tsp salt
- 1 medium onion, finely sliced
- 3⁄4 cup galangal, finely sliced (available fresh or frozen in Asian grocery stores)
- 8 stalks lemongrass, white part only, finely sliced
- 3 red Thai chili, finely sliced (remove seeds if you don't want too spicy; reduce chilis if you want even less heat)
- 1⁄2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp salt
- Heat oil so it is shimmering but not super hot.
- Put in a strand of lime leaf – it should become crispy but remain green. If the oil is too hot, and leaf becomes brown, reduce heat. Add the rest of the lime leave strips and fry until crisp but still green – takes under a minute! Ideally, using a skimmer (or strainer) remove leaves. Drain on paper towel, season with 1⁄2 tsp salt,; gently pull strands apart with fingers.
- In the same pan with the hot oil, fry the onions and galangal until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the lemongrass and chili. Cook until all vegetables are fairly crispy. Season with 1⁄2 tsp salt and set aside.
- Heat peanuts in the oil briefly and remove. Toss with the crispy vegetables (except the fried lime lime leaf strands) and season generously with sugar and salt (3 parts sugar:1 part salt). Keep replacing paper towels until nuts are less oily. Once seasoned, add fried lime leaf strands, toss. Taste and adjust to your liking!
Galangal is in the ginger family but has a much more pungent, complex spicy flavor that mellows a bit when cooked. It is woodier in texture than ginger, so be sure your knife is sharp.
If you have rubber gloves, wear them when dealing with the Thai chilies!
Once you are done with the oil, don't throw away!!! It is now a wonderfully flavorful oil you can use to sauté the chicken patties or any other dish for that matter!