Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

May 30, 2010

Quest for Peanut Sauce, try 1

Quest for Peanut Sauce, try 1
aka truth about "East Asian Food" in the USA
base ingredients for my peanut sauce

Thai inspired fresh spring rolls with rice noodles , shrimp, cilantro,
basil, lettuce and chrysanthemum leaves to dip into the peanut sauce

soybean noodles with peanut sauce, topped with left over grilled sirloin,
scallions, cilantro and crispy shallots

I have been thinking about Arnold Myint, and his peanut sauce a lot lately, and every time I look at my Suzy Wong's House of Yum blog post, I think about his peanut sauce more and more. Arnold's peanut sauce is so dang good, and I have yet to figure out how to make it. I went to google to try and find versions of peanut sauce I can put on noodles, mix with veggies, and some meat and broccoli. I found four particular website that surprised me, and where I drew my inspiration from.

All Recipes Best Thai Peanut Sauce recipe

The truth about Thai Peanut Sauce is that there isn't really Thai Peanut Sauce, and the peanut sauce the USA I have grown accustom to is a pure USA manifestation. This was a little bit of a surprise to me because I really don't know much about Thai, Vietnamese, or Lao food, and I assumed what I was eating was Thai, Vietnamese or Lao recipes. Of course, I look back, and why should I be surprised that there is no Thai peanut sauce, and the peanut sauce I have eaten in the USA is completely manufactured for a USA tastebuds. Many sushi and Chinese food dishes the USA I have grown accustom to eating are USA or western manifestations, and not real Japanese or Chinese food. There is no mayo in traditional modern nigiri sushi, and using flavored mayo is a Western approach to sushi. Western sushi with mayo may taste good and is very popular in the USA, but it is far from the origins of sushi.

Chinese food I can get in Nashville is nothing like Southern China home cooking, or Cantonese style foods. There is no sweet and sour pork, or General Tsao's chicken in real Chinese food. Again these dishes taste good to Western tastebuds, but these dishes do not resemble anything in Chinese food. I remember reading an article in the NY Times about a Chinese owned restaurant in Jefferson City, MO, and the owner makes claim of inventing beef and broccoli with brown gravy served with rice. The owner wanted a larger share of dinner market in Jeff City (that is what the locals call the place), and was trying to make a dish that would appeal to the Western taste. He knew people in and around Jeff City liked beef, gravy and potatoes, so he made one of the 1st Asian - American fusion dishes by using Chinese style ingredients and a typical American meal as inspiration. I love beef and broccoli in a brown soy sauce gravy, but the origins are claimed to be from Jeff City, MO, not China. By the way, for you geography buffs, Jeff City is the Capital of Missouri, not St L, KC, nor Columbia, as some others may be lead to believe.

Back to the peanut sauce. I want to make a Thai inspired, but completely USA manifested spicy peanut sauce. I took what I could remember from tasting many times, Arnold Myint's peanut sauce at PM Nashville Restaurant, and what I have googled, and came up with my own recipe.

My Version of peanut sauce to be best of my memory
serve either warm or cold

1/3 cup fresh crushed peanut butter
13 oz can of coconut milk
1/4 cup honey I got from my friend's rescue bees
2 hand torn dried cayenne pepper I dried 2 years ago
juice 1 lime
some lime zest
1 clove crushed garlic
1 Tbs toasted sesame oil
1/2 thumb size grated ginger
2 tsp really good soy sauce (or 1 tsp American brand)
couple shakes fish sauce
3 Tbs Penang red curry sauce

In a heavy pot over medium low heat
Saute garlic in sesame oil for a few seconds
add coconut milk
add hand torn cayenne peppers
add fresh peanut butter
add honey
add grated ginger
add Penang curry paste to taste
add soy sauce and fish sauce to taste
add some zest of a 1/4 lime
add juice of lime
adjust to soy and cayenne to taste
add a little water at a time if it is too thick

warm on the stove until all ingredients are incorporated and
just before the point where the sauce is about to bubble a little

refrigerate, and the next day the flavors will have bloomed and you will want to drink this stuff

The outcome is that this is the best peanut sauce I have ever had. It has the high sparkly note from the lime, some heat from the cayenne and Penang curry sauce and cayenne, and a balance for the high spark and heat from the honey and soy. M tasted it and said that is the flavor! I took some over to my Fire Eater friend's house, and we made fresh Thai inspired spring rolls to dip the spring rolls into the sauce. Fire Eater's family really liked the peanut sauce too. Fire Eater even used some of the peanut sauce on vanilla ice cream for dessert. It went surprisingly well with vanilla ice cream. I have about 1/2 cup of this stuff left, and I plan on putting it on noodles or rice, or just scooping the sauce straight into my mouth. Either way, it is really good stuff.


At 5/31/10, 12:37 PM, Anonymous ModFruGal said...

YUM! I must try your recipe...I made one that used sweet chili sauce and mostly the same other ingredients that was good...but I like the idea f the penang touch. I didn't use that...MMMmm getting hungry just typing it.

At 5/31/10, 1:22 PM, Blogger Binh Thai said...

Lannae, Let me know how your recipe comes out. Momma Tran swears by good 'ol peanut butter. PickledAndFried.

At 5/31/10, 1:39 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Mod, give the Penang a try, and see how you like it. I saw a recipe calling for red curry paste, but Penang seemed to be the way to go. Seriously, I have been drinking this stuff one spoonful at a time.

Hey Pickled and Fried, I am sure good ol' peanut butter would work instead of honey and fresh ground peanuts. Most recipes called for good ol' peanut butter. I decided not to use commercial peanut butter because most name brands use hydrogenated oil.

At 5/31/10, 2:30 PM, Blogger Binh Thai said...

btw, I've been hearing, incredulously, good things about dim sum at LB. Want to give it another try this weekend? A is still out of town, but I got back a few days ago.

At 5/31/10, 7:24 PM, Anonymous ModFruGal said...

Don't tease about the dim sum..I want it so bad but will not settle for frozen...keep me posted! Fingers crossed...

At 6/1/10, 1:33 PM, Blogger Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Mmmhhh, it sounds fabulous! That is an awesome sauce. Yummy!



At 6/1/10, 5:52 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hey Mod, will keep you posted on the LB dim sum issue.

Rosa! Thank you! It was a great success!


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