Indonesian peanut sauce (Indonesian gado gado)

Posted: November 1, 2011 in gluten-free recipes, vegan recipes
Tags: ,

Who doesn’t love peanut sauce?  Who couldn’t practically bathe in peanut sauce?  (Okay, sorry for that.)  First attempt to make at home.  The nice thing about that giganto tv screen that Mark wanted is that it works great when I’m having a food-assembling attack and want to watch old horror movies.

Makes me so happy to hear a dying Charlton Heston say: “It’s people.  Soylent green is made out of people.  You gotta tell em!  SOYLENT GREEN IS MADE OF PEOPLE!!!!”  ….and then they carry him away so he can be chopped up.

With that happy thought, here is my attempt at peanut sauce.  This recipe is supposed to make 2.5 c sauce, and I have a plan for 1 cup of that sauce.

vegan, gluten –

source:  The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of the East, by Reinfeld and Murray

  • 1 tbsp sesame or peanut oil
  • 3 tbsp minced shallots or onion (I went with shallots for variety)
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 2 tsp peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp seeded and diced jalapeno pepper
  • 1 c coconut milk (I use light coconut milk, which is fattening enough)
  • 3/4 c water
  • 1 c crunchy pb
  • 2 tsp “Fish-Free Sauce” (*see note below)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup, organic brown sugar or some sweetener (I used maple)
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp soy or tamari
  • 1 1/2 tsp tamarind paste or 1 tbsp lime juice (*see note below)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt or less if using Liquid Aminos/fish sauce
  • Crushed red pepper flakes to taste

To prepare sauce, place oil in a pot over medium heat.  Add shallots, garlic, ginger and jalapeno and cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Lower the heat to low and add remaining ingredients, stirring occasionally.  Pour sauce into a bowl and serve warm alongside steamed veggies.  Garnish each serving with the green onions or add them to sauce.

They mention a variation to try almond butter, which sounds fun.

I’ve had peanut sauces in Denver, and Chicago, and New York, and Hoboken, and Boulder, and Paris.  (The French make wonderful food, but in Paris, they do not make wonderful French vegetarian food.  It’s a crime.)  (The French do, however, make stellar vegetarian Indian, Chinese, and Vietnamese food.) Commerical/restaurant peanut sauce is delicious, and it’s mostly the same sauce. 

This is not that sauce, because that sauce comes from a jar.  This sauce is FAR richer, and also far less sweet.  It’s a little more balance between sweet and sour, a little spicier.  It’s wonderful, and feels more like dinner than dessert.  (Take out peanut sauce tofu tastes like dessert.  It just does.)  There’s something about food that has a lot of preservatives or corn syrup or whatever the heck is sometimes in highly processed foods that does make you want to eat a gallon of it.  This sauce I made is delicious, but it lacks that element of crack in the commercial peanut sauces….and it’s really a deliciously good thing.  (The tamarind paste I used probably has crack in it, but because I used very little, it doesn’t seem to have that processed taste to it.)


I also want to mention how stupidly easy it was to make this.  Granted, some of the ingredients are uncommon. 

* About those uncommon ingredients…to the left is a photo of what I used.  Tamarind pods are readily available in grocery stores around here.  When I also start churning my own butter and milking my cat, I will be telling you how I made my own tamarind paste.  (I tried it….it wasn’t pretty.)  In metro Denver, there’s a dozen family-run Indian grocery stores that have all the goodies you need for Indian food.  Indian food is stupidly easy to make once you have the five or six uncommon ingredients, the majority of which keep for a very, very long time.  (My tamarind paste is older than a year.  If I was a real cook, I’d be embarrassed, but I’m not a real cook.  Seal it tight, keep it in the fridge and there’s no problem.)  While you’re at an Indian grocery, buy five pound bags of basmati for 1/10th the price you get it at normal grocery stores. There’s an off-chance you’d find tamarind paste at your regular grocery store near the soy and oyster and peanut sauces.

I live in Boomfsck North Burbs, CO and I most recently checked out:  My India\’s and picked up a few goodies.  At the southern end of Denver, there’s also Indus Imports on Federal and Mississippi.  I’m sure this product is easily get-able online somewhere, too.

About the Liquid Aminos….if you are not a vegetarian, just get fish sauce at your regular grocery store in the “exotic Asian” section.  It’s next to the soy sauce.  If not there, try the “health food” section, where they might stick such things as apple cider vinegar and the tamari.  I know this stuff is get-able online, too.  One of the things I really sacrificed when I gave up fish to become really veggie was cooking Thai food.  I did love to make Thai food from when I was in college…it’s the first ‘cuisine’ I learned.  I was 20, and I happily accepted help in How to Cook from my roommate’s mother (who was from Singapore), but not from my mother (who is from Philadelphia).  I was 20 and I had decided that knew everything better than my own mother, but I was willing to consider the idea that I wasn’t smarter than someone else’s mom.   (It was progress over age 16, when I knew everything better than everybody.)

May was completely unwilling to listen to her mother, so her mom figured out very quickly to teach ME to cook, and then her daughter ate well.  Chicago had not one but two excellent “Chinatowns”, so I never lacked for cheap, good ingredients.  At the time, fish sauce didn’t exist in regular groceries, and the labels were only printed in Thai.  (Kinda miss that, too.)  May’s Mom (whose name I never learned; she was always May’s Mom) taught me to make perfect rice every time, and gave me a lot of tips.

I have a cookbook on Thai cuisine that I adored….and almost every recipe has fish sauce in it.  I kept it because I couldn’t part with it.  But until this year, I didn’t learn that there was a replacement for fish sauce.  This is why I felt brave enough to try this today.  The Liquid Aminos was recommended by this cookbook I used….and though I don’t remember the exact taste of fish sauce, this Aminos is predominantly soy sauce, with some other….something.  The small amount in this peanut sauce dish lends the little touch of sour.  I think it’s that “fifth flavor” that someone labelled ‘umami’.  Now that I’ve tried this, I may break out the old Thai cookbook.

All I need to do that is maybe a Vietnamese grocery, because I’ll need a source of fresh lemongrass….maybe I should just drive down Federal Blvd.

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