I put out an offer on reddit last week to create a blog post based on any requests that redditors had to offer. The first response was from user nicksterluv:
What about a (cheap) peanut sauce? My favorite thing to order at the local Thai restaurant is a vegetable curry with peanut sauce, but I don’t get to eat it as often as I’d like since it’s expensive
Well, nicksterluv, your wish is my command.
Unfortunately, I had never before cooked anything even remotely Thai, so my next few days were spent in frantic searches for online recipes to get a general idea of what the hell goes into peanut sauce. Since the first order of business for this sauce was inexpensive, I was forced to immediately discard almost all of the websites I glanced at. (So much coconut milk!) In the end, I pretty much had to completely invent a recipe from scratch based on the two or three times in my life I have ever had peanut sauce. On the plus side, it gave me an excuse to go to a delightful little Thai hole-in-the-wall in the Village.
Ultimately, I tried to use only things that I had in my pantry. The full ingredient list ended up reading as follows:
- peanut butter
- ginger powder
- garlic powder
- olive oil
- white wine vinegar
As it turned out, I had to buy the first three ingredients on that list, but, thanks to Shop Rite, I only spent about $8 on the whole lot and now have enough ginger and cumin to last me a good while.
To make the sauce, I created a double boiler set-up with two pots. (For those to whom that meant nothing: If you nest your ingredients pot inside a pot of just simmering water, you can heat the ingredients more evenly and keep the peanut butter from burning. This is also useful whenever a recipe calls for melted chocolate, which burns like a California wildlife preserve.)
Melt two hefty scoops of peanut butter in the upper pot and add just enough oil so that it could be considered whisk-able and then about two to three shots of vinegar (it was the only measure I had handy…). Then, tasting after each addition, drop in some cumin, garlic, ginger, pepper, salt and the slightest bit of cinnamon. How much of each you add will depend strongly on your personal preference and, honestly, I tweaked the amounts so much during the adding of them, that I have no idea how much of each I ended up putting in.
When it is seasoned to your satisfaction, pour immediately into a bowl and serve hot. I sauteed some chicken breasts and shrimp and set out some pita and humus.
So…if you are reading this from reddit, or even not from reddit, shoot me an email, pm, text, comment, reply or smoke signal about what you want me to cook next!