September is often a busy month and this year has been no exception. For the most part, I am looking toward my kitchen gadgets, Dutch ovens, special baking dishes and tagine longingly and defaulting to quick and easy meals I’ve made many times before– I don’t have the luxury right now of long afternoons spent playing at the stove. But… I have this brilliant new peanut sauce in my life. Peanut sauce is not something we take lightly in our house: it must be sweet, it must be spicy, it must be salty and creamy and have just the right amount of peanut flavor. After many recipes tried and tossed, this one is a winner. It is everything I just mentioned and more– perfectly pourable for your noodle dishes, thick enough to be a delicious dip for satay skewers or raw vegetables (snap peas in peanut sauce? yes, please!) and so tasty you might be willing to forego every vehicle other than a clean spoon. It’s also easy, did I mention that? You could have it ready for dinner tonight. My current favorite way to serve this peanut sauce is over a bed of rice or rice noodles topped with wilted dark greens (spinach, tatsoi, Swiss chard, etc.) and sometimes chicken. It reminds me of the Swimming Rama I order so often at our favorite Thai restaurant and is both comforting and filling. I feel like I should stop explaining and get to the recipe already so you can make some! Sometimes all you need to get through a busy month is a good peanut sauce recipe, and here is mine.
Spicy Peanut Sauce (adapted from this recipe; makes about 2 c.)
- 1 T. red or panang curry paste (I like Mae Ploy brand)*
- 4 T. creamy peanut butter
- 3 T. fish sauce (I like Red Boat brand)
- 2 T. brown sugar
- 1 14 oz. can of coconut milk, preferably not low-fat, well-shaken
- 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger* or 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 T. rice wine vinegar (unseasoned)
In a small saucepan, mix the curry paste, peanut butter, fish sauce and brown sugar until you have a smooth paste. Stir in the coconut milk a little at a time (this helps to ensure a smooth sauce), then stir in the ginger. Over medium heat, bring the sauce to a lazy boil, stirring often; it will begin to thicken slightly but does stay quite thin. Add the rice wine vinegar near the end of the cook time. The sauce is ready to use immediately or will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Update: I made this again using a different brand of curry paste and found it slightly salty. As such, I reduced the amount of the fish sauce in the recipe to 3 T. If you find it needs more seasoning, add another 1 T. fish sauce -or- a pinch of kosher salt.
*Fresh ginger is spicy in its own right and will add another level of heat to this sauce. If you want a milder heat, consider using ground ginger and reducing the amount of curry paste to 2 tsp.