Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add nuts and blanch for 30 seconds. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl. While nuts are still hot and slightly wet, add powdered sugar and toss to coat. Continue stirring and tossing until all the sugar has “melted” into the nuts (if bits of unmelted sugar remain, the nuts will not fry properly).
In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat about 1 inch of oil to 350°F over medium-high heat.
Stir the nuts again before frying. Using a large slotted spoon, transfer a few nuts to the hot oil, allowing the foam to subside before adding another spoonful. (Otherwise, the oil could foam over and burn you.) Fry in small batches until the nuts are medium brown, about 45 seconds; be careful not to overcook. Use a slotted spoon to remove the nuts from the oil and scatter them on an unlined baking sheet to cool slightly.
While the nuts are still warm, transfer them to a bowl and sprinkle evenly with 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder, salt, and pepper. Toss well to distribute the spices, and then taste a nut. Add more seasonings to taste and toss well after each addition. When the nuts are cool, pack them into an airtight jar or plastic container. They will keep at room temperature for at least 2 weeks.
Beverage pairing:Westmalle Tripel, Belgium. Nuts and beer are a barroom tradition. This recipe was almost made for a good Belgian triple ale: These malty brews are spiced up with hops to deliver some of the very characteristics of Chinese five-spice.