Thai-spired peanut sauce

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My mother used to make chicken satay skewers for “special” barbecue events when I was little. I was always excited about chicken satay because a) food on sticks and b) the peanut sauce that went along with it. When I got older and moved to a city with an abundance of Thai restaurants, I realized that it wasn’t just my mother and the collection of Australian cookbooks foisted upon us by my (paternal) grandmother who were onto the potential of peanuts beyond the ubiquitous PB&J. As M. and I both love Thai food, trying to recreate some of the more common (and delicious) flavors at home was inevitable.

This sauce has become a regular in our home, we like to make a big batch and freeze into several portions. Its potential uses are myriad: Most often I throw a few heaping spoonfuls into a vegetable stir-fry, but it also makes a great base for salad dressing (thin it out with a little sesame oil and/or water), or a dip for raw vegetables. If you are thinking of eating it in an uncooked form, it’s best to make ahead of time (at least several hours, preferably a day or more) to allow the flavors to blend together and the rawness of the garlic to mellow.

Thai-spired peanut sauce
Makes just under 3 cups

Ingredients
2 c. roasted and salted peanuts
3/4 c. water
1 tbsp crushed red pepper
1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c rice vinegar
juice and zest of 1 lime
6 cloves garlic
2 inch piece of ginger root, peeled and cut into ~1/2″ thick slices
1/4 c. sesame oil

Method
1. Combine peanuts and water in a food processor and blend until a thick, grainy paste is formed.

2. If you are planning to use the sauce in raw form only (as a dip or salad dressing), add all remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Add more water, 2 tbsp at a time, if a thinner consistency is desired.

3. If you are planning to cook the sauce (or if you are planning to freeze and haven’t decided how you will use it yet), add all remaining ingredients except the sesame oil and blend until smooth. When you use the sauce in a cooked dish, add sesame oil in the last few minutes of cooking (you probably will not be using all the sauce at once, so adjust the amount of sesame oil added at the time of cooking accordingly. 1/4 c. is equivalent to 4 tbsp or 12 tsp).

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