So my experimentation with Thai cooking continues. When I think of peanut sauce, my mind immediately takes me to a Vietnamese restaurant where I’m enjoying a nice bowl of pho along with spring rolls covered in that magic sauce. To be quite honest, I’m not so sure if I would eat spring rolls without it. So yes, I take my peanut sauce very.very.seriously.
That’s why when I learned of the Thai version, I shook out my apron and got to work. I’ve tried tons of recipes (thank you fellow, food bloggers!), and while they were all delicious in their own way, my palate was desiring something a lil’ different apparently. I didn’t know what flavor or texture I was looking for, but I knew I hadn’t found it yet. Come to think of it, that’s how most of my senses work. When I’m out searching for shoes because I’m “in need,” the conversation with the Hungryman usually goes like this….
Hungryman: “What kind of shoe are you looking for?”
Me: “I dunno yet. I’ll know when I see it.”
Hungryman: “What does that mean? You have to have some idea.”
Me: “I said I’ll know when I see it.”
Hungryman: “Oh yea, that’s right. You always say that.”
Me: “Then quit asking me and follow my lead.”
Now be honest. You can relate, can’t you? Or am I alone? Say it isn’t so…
So while this sauce may not perhaps be as “authentic” as it should, it hit that sweet spot on my tongue that caused all my nerves to fire. Alas, I instantly knew my search came to an abrupt halt. Patience and determination never seem to fail me. I couldn’t, in good conscience, restrain my fingers from dipping. However, I do advise you to stop after the third or forth sampling. It’s pretty rich and begs to be served as a complement.
One thing to note… If you like your sauce on the thinner side, slowly add more water or coconut milk ’til you reach the desired consistency. Personally, I thought there was plenty of coconut-y flavor so I would advise to choose water first. However, it’s your call! Let your taste buds guide you.
I chose to use the peanut sauce in place of the usual refried beans as the base for the traditionally high-calorie, high-fat tostada. To turn it into a healthful and satisfying meal, I baked the whole wheat tortilla rather than frying and topped it with copious amounts of fresh vegetables and chicken breast meat.
I don’t know what’s come over me, but I’ve been in a real fusion groove as of late (e.g. my Kimchi Bulgogi Pizza). Although at first glance one could easily mistake this for a Mexican tostada, the flavors are unmistakably Thai. Refreshing bean sprouts, pungent cilantro married together with the spicy peanut sauce…can you say flavor explosion? And although the lime juice and chopped peanuts are optional, could I persuade you to incorporate them as a necessity? The lime juice together with the carrots, green onion, sprouts and cilantro create like an Asian slaw that helps cut through the richness of the peanut sauce. As for the peanuts, they provide some extra crunch to the bevy of wonderful textures already going on in this dish.
- 6 whole wheat tortillas
- 2 cups cooked diced chicken breast
- red lettuce chopped
- bean sprouts
- carrots shredded
- green onion diced
- cilantro chopped
- lime juice optional
- chopped peanuts optional
Spicy Peanut Sauce
- 1 Tbs coconut cream from top of can of coconut milk. Don't shake the can!
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp minced lemongrass
- 1 Tbs red curry paste
- 1/3 cup peanut butter
- 1 Tbs sugar
- 1 Tbs fish sauce
- 1 Tbs sesame oil
- 1/2 can coconut milk
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Coat tortillas on both sides with cooking spray or olive oil. Place on baking sheet and bake, turning once halfway, until lightly browned and crisped, about 10 minutes. Once out of the oven, immediately sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- In the meanwhile, heat coconut cream in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger, and sauté until fragrant, approx 1 minute. Add lemongrass and curry paste, and sauté for another minute. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and simmer, stirring frequently, until well incorporated and thickened, about 5 minutes. For thinner consistency, slowly add water or coconut milk.
- Spread peanut sauce on one side of baked tortilla. Top with chicken and vegetables. Drizzle more peanut sauce over the top if desired.
This sauce has been ending up in everything I eat, so it was only a matter of time before I came across another gold mine. And sure enough, I did! Stay tuned for part II ;). In the meanwhile, let’s just say it’d be wise to reserve some of that peanut sauce, or perhaps you’d be better off making some extra.