One of the simplest ways shake up your routine dinner dishes is to play with the sauces. After visiting my fair share of Thai restaurants, I found that the Pad Thai dish is an easy favorite to most patrons. The biggest difference between Pad Thai and other Thai dishes is the peanut sauce. I felt compelled to make my own, so I thumbed through recipe books and scoured the internets, soon realizing that the only uniting factor in Thai peanut sauce is the peanut butter. I concocted a winner that has been lovingly taste-tested by everyone I can put a spoon in front of. It was imminently important to come up with a recipe where I could utilize ingredients easily found at a local grocery store, without the trip to a specialized grocer.
Makes about 6-8 cups
• 2 cups creamy or crunchy peanut butter
• 6 medium-sized dried hot red peppers (Use 3 for a milder sauce, or 2 Teaspoons Red Pepper Flakes)
• 3-4 cups water (depending on the thickness you prefer)
• ½ cup vegetable oil
• ¼ cup sesame oil*
• ¼ cup soy sauce
• 2 inch piece of ginger, minced
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• ½ cup honey
• White sugar**
• ¼ cup white vinegar
* Sometimes sesame oil is too hard to find, or too expensive. It adds a rich and nutty flavor, but it is not essential. I used chili sesame oil, for additional heat.
**The amount of sugar is directly proportionate to how sweet your choice of peanut butter is. Add little by little, as to not over-sweeten.
Begin with a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add oil to saucepan and allow to warm. Chop up the dried red pepper and add to oil. Do not fry the red pepper; adjust the heat to be just below bubbling. After 3 minutes of letting the red pepper flavor the oils, add the ginger and garlic. Swish and stir for 5 minutes. Add the soy sauce, honey, and vinegar, and continue stirring. At this point you can begin spooning in the peanut butter, stir to incorporate in between dollops. This is a great time to taste the mix, to evaluate the balance of sweetness, salt, and heat. Dip in a spoon, and taste after allowing it to cool a bit, and add the sugar if you want to. Add two cups of water. After stirring in the water thoroughly, the sauce will thicken again slightly. If you prefer a thinner sauce add more water.
I find that I enjoy a thinner sauce for dipping summer rolls (pictured), and thicker for my Pad Thai noodles, either works fabulously on stir-fry veggies. Fortunately, you can have both by bottling the thick sauce, and adding small amounts of water to the individual portions when you want to prepare the peanut sauce for dipping. The sauce keeps for two months in the refrigerator, and makes a wonderful gift. I used sanitized spaghetti jars, and labels in the style of Dottie.
- Jar Labels • I chose the “Dottie” style in Spice.