Monday, September 24, 2007

Foodie interlude, part II

A few days ago, 'round about Friday, I developed a craving for peanut sauce, the Thai or modified Thai kind. Don't ask me why. Some people have pregnancy cravings; this must have been a perimenopausal craving. At least it was healthy. And I figured I probably had all the ingredients at home already. I'm one of those people who keep fresh ginger in the house.

Too lazy to go poking through my three shelves of cookbooks (which I rarely use and mostly read for pleasure and inspiration) and not in possession of a Thai cookbook (I generally entrust Thai cooking to restaurants and to my friends who took cooking classes during their trip to Thailand), I went on the Web and found this. Easy. Here it is:

Peanut sauce

1/3 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
1/2 cup water
2 T soy sauce
1 T lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 t grated ginger
1/4 t red pepper flakes (more or less, accoording to taste)

That's it. I didn't even mince the garlic, I just threw all the ingredients into my cheap supermarket food processor and voilà. Toss this with Thai rice noodles and/or tofu cubes, add a little parsley or fresh cilantro for color and vitamins, and there's your meal. I had consumed some raw and crunchy things earlier, but you can also put your veggies in there. I expect you can serve this with all manner of meat and marinate things in it and so forth, but I am a busy woman and I was hungry. I did have to grate the ginger, but it smells good and I only grated a tiny bit of the tip of my finger.

Of course, this will not work for you if you are allergic to peanuts.

I recommend making a double recipe right away. Then you can keep it in the fridge for the next night you come home tired from work and want something with protein and taste and zing. Also, if you've tossed whatever you've tossed into it and refriegerate it, it's good as a leftover and the flavors sit well with each other.

This will work either hot or cold. I've had it both ways. (Cue the Joni Mitchell "Both Sides Now" and change the words to foodie ones.)

I've made this twice (yes, in three days -- so sue me) and I modified it the second time because I didn't like the idea of so much soy sauce. I don't have high blood pressure or any problems with salt (except for the fact that having a salty meal at night gives one puffy eyes in the morning) but, as several of our mothers would say, why tempt the devil. So the second time around I halved the amount of soy sauce, added a little extra of the peanut butter (I use the organic crunchy kind, but I am a food snob and even my local supermarket now carries it and it's not expensive) and it worked just fine. I think I was a little under the required dose of ginger, but let me tell you, hand-grating two full teaspoons of ginger (or four if you are doubling the recipe) is an awful lot of ginger and an awful lot of grating. And fresh ginger goes a long way, so you can cheat a little. Bottled lime juice will work if you don't have fresh limes. As for the red pepper flakes, I used the recommended amount plus a few flakes and it had the right amount of zing. Don't use too much more or it will overwhelm the other tastes.

I usually eat a more Mediterranean than Asian diet (there is always, always olive oil in the house) but this was very nice, and may make it into some kind of regular rotation here.

The cat liked the activity but was supremely uninterested in the food. So that's another advantage: your cat won't eat it. Probably your dog won't either. Garlic and ginger are generally not a dog thing.


Paul said...

Oh, yum! Reminds me of the scrumptious vegetarian meals at Wellspring Retreat Center in Philo.

I had a bad food experience today. Went to a Teriyaki Bowl place for lunch (I know, what sort of fool tries for Asian food in New Mexico? Well, "fool" sort of covers it.) They had orange chicken on the menu. I like orange chicken and orange beef, accustomed as I am to dining on such at places like Rene's on Solano Avenue in North Berkeley (where it is always fabulous).

What I got had the requisite hot peppers but orange? No orange peel, which is the whole point of the dish, but lots of mandarin orange slices that had come out of a can tossed on top. And the sauce was very tomato-y. WTF?

The moral, of course, is that I should be cooking my own Asian food. Thanks for the inspiration!

Joseph Zitt said...

Ooh! I'm printing this out, and may try it in cooking dinner this week (unless I follow my original impulse and reprise the Pineapple Mole' Mackerel that worked so well a few weeks back).

johnieb said...

I'm thinking of modifying this to a marinade/ braising liquid for oven sweet potato fries.

Fish makes me think of Fajitas with those. Maybe an Eastern Med salad as an appetizer, with fresh cheeses? Not quite, I think, but some tinkering, maybe.

Maybe I better go make dinner.

Jane R said...

I wouldn't mix this Asian set of flavors with a first course or appetizer with a Mediterranean flavor. Too much travel in one meal. I'd keep the first course simple and fresh, with a light seasoning that marries well (as the French say) with the main course. (Since you have beans in season, try barely steamed green beans, cooled down a bit, with barely a drizzle of sesame oil and if you want, some salt or a light, very light drop of rice vinegar. Or a very finely shredded cabbage and carrot salad, i.e. a slaw, but the Asian fusion version -- a bit of lime juice (which will the peanut-sauce main dish will echo since it has lime in it, though hidden) and a light (not toasted) sesame oil or sunflower oil. That's it. Skip anything dairy as it will conflict with the flavors.


johnieb said...

Asian fusion slaw makes good sense, as do the bean suggestions. I'm thinking more Shrimp Crepes with that sauce? I admit I'm not excited by noodles.

I'm hungry for Brussels Sprouts, and it's still Summer.