Despite their name, peanuts are not nuts. They actually belong to the legume family, which, according to the United States-based Peanut Institute (I didn't know there was one, did you?), means they are 'edible seeds enclosed in pods'. While this might not be the most precise botanical explanation, it is sufficient for those of us interested in peanuts more for their culinary uses than their agricultural classification. Peanuts are nutritious and versatile, making them an important food in many countries. They can be eaten as a snack, cooked with other ingredients to provide flavour and texture in sweet and savoury dishes, and ground alone or with other ingredients to make peanut butter, marinades and sauces, such as for gado gado and satay. Peanuts are also pressed to extract oil with a high smoke point (meaning it can be heated to high temperatures without burning). For an easy 'mixed nut' combo that is a lot cheaper than those that come in pop-top tins, buy shelled raw peanuts, almonds, cashews and hazelnuts. Heat a little oil in a wok, add the nuts and roast over a high heat, stirring constantly, until the nuts are fragrant and lightly toasted. Toss with fine sea salt and other flavourings such as black pepper, cayenne and paprika. Although the fondness for peanut butter sandwiches seems to be largely American (they can be good if you add sliced bananas and serve on toasted wholewheat bread), peanut butter is an excellent shortcut for many dishes. Check the ingredients label and buy only unsweetened brands. Satay sauce is sold in jars but it's easy to make. Combine these ingredients to your taste: crunchy peanut butter, fish sauce, fresh lime juice, a little sugar and finely minced garlic, ginger, lemongrass and fresh chillies. If it's too thick, add a little warm water or chicken broth. Scoop into dishes, sprinkle with fresh coriander and chopped, roasted peanuts, then serve with skewers of grilled chicken, beef or pork. This is also a good dip for raw vegetables. Peanut butter also serves as a good base for sauce with cold noodles. I like it with soba noodles but you can also use it on Chinese egg noodles. Combine smooth peanut butter with rice vinegar, soy sauce, grated ginger, finely minced garlic, sugar and pure sesame oil. If you like spicy foods, stir in a little chilli oil. Thin the sauce with chicken broth - it should lightly coat the cooked noodles. Toss the noodles with the sauce at the last minute and add cooked shredded chicken, julienne vegetables (cucumber, carrots and daikon), toasted chopped peanuts, chopped spring onions and fresh coriander.