Perfect Peanut Sauce
I've been trying, almost unsuccessfully, to become a vegan again. It's difficult, especially when you are surrounded by carnivores. Especially dismissive carnivores. But I was vegan once before, and I'd like to try it again, since it was the only time in my life where I truly felt healthy and vibrant. I'm pretty sure that (along with exercise) veganism is the key to being a good diabetic, and to weight loss — at least for me.
One of the things I've noticed about veganism is the importance of getting enough fat in your diet. Oh, sure, there's the protein issue, but I eat lots of tofu and have never had a problem with anemia. Another problem for vegans, especially busy vegans who don't live on organic vegetable farms with their dreadlocked children and professional chef spouse, is making veggies taste really good, good enough to overpower the desire to give up and head to the nearest fast food chain. (See also: 25 Frugal Items for Your Organic Vegan Grocery List)
You can only sautee some kale in olive oil and garlic so many times before you want to scream.
But without fat, you can stuff your face with broccoli until the cows come home, and you'll still be hungry. In fact, you might start eyeing the cows with newfound enthusiasm.
Behold peanut sauce! One of my new tactics is to whip up a bunch of kick-ass vegan sauces that I can just throw on top of whatever it is that I'm planning on eating. I'll be publishing others over the next few weeks. None of the recipes will be limited to vegans, of course. They taste great on fish and chicken, or even other meats. You can throw them on at the last minute, or add broth and stew all kinds of things in them.
Note: People with peanut allergies can substitute other nut butters, or soy butter, in place of the peanut butter.
Perfect Peanut Sauce
My first recipe comes from Cooking with Amy. It's my favorite one, and so easy to make. It's what I use for dipping vegan spring rolls.
- 1/4 cup peanut butter (natural, no sugar added kind)
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice
- 1/4 cup coconut milk (lite is fine, if you prefer or substitute water)
- 1/4 cup water
- red chili flake to taste
- chili garlic sauce to taste or 1 clove crushed garlic
- sesame oil
- curry paste
- grated ginger
- shallots sauteed till brown in oil
- Worcestershire sauce (Raedia's idea)* Editor's update - Worcestershire sauce is not vegan
Combine all ingredients with a whisk in a small bowl, adding the water last. Pour into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until sauce begins to bubble and thicken. Experiment with this sauce adding a teaspoon at a time of one the optional additions and tasting as you go. Serve hot or cold.
Thai Peanut Sauce
AllRecipes.com offers this great recipe for Thai peanut sauce, which I like best with tofu. I LOVE the cilantro in it.
- 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
In a bowl, mix the peanut butter, coconut milk, water, lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce, hot sauce, ginger, and garlic. Mix in the cilantro just before serving.
Indonesian Peanut Sauce
About.com offers this recipe for Indonesian peanut sauce. It's a little tangier, and perfect over salads (like Indonesian specialty salad gado gado — and yes, I know that gado gado isn't technically vegan, but it's close enough for this post). It's a little more labor-intensive, but lip-smackingly good!
Yield: 1 cup
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 garlic cloves, minced (1 tablespoon)
- 12 chiles de arbol or chiles Japones, softened in hot water, dried, seeded, and minced
- 1 tablespoon minced galangal or ginger
- 1 stalk lemongrass, tough outer layers and green parts removed, minced (1/4 cup)
- 2 shallots, minced (1/4 cup)
- 1 teaspoon red miso
- 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/2 cup coconut cream
- 1/4 cup tamarind juice
Pound the salt and garlic in a mortar with a pestle into a fine paste. Add the chiles and pound to a puree. One at a time, add the galangal, lemongrass, shallots, and red miso, in sequence, adding each one only after the previous ingredient has been completely pureed and incorporated into the paste. Transfer to a bowl or to a glass jar with a right-fitting lid. Refrigerated, the seasoning paste will keep for a month.
Or, if using a blender, add all the above ingredients plus the vegetable oil and puree.
Saute the chile paste in the oil (or the chile paste-oil mixture) in a saucepan over mediium-high heat until it exudes a pleasant aroma, about 2 to 3 minutes. Lower the heat and add the sugar, peanut butter, coconut cream and tamarind juice. Stir to mix, and heat until the mixture boils and thickens, about 2 minutes.
Transfer to a bowl and let cool before serving. Stored in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator, the sauce will keep for a couple of weeks. If it congeals and thickens, dilute with 2 to 3 tablespoons water and cook over low heat in a saucepan, stirring until smooth.