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My friend Peter is a professional baker by day, and one of the most excellent home cooks I’ve ever met. He gave me permission to publish his peanut sauce recipe which is good on everything from tofu to chicken to just plain rice. The way he writes recipes is very helpful, too; he uses a common sense approach that really reflects the way people actually cook. Ok, without further ado:

Tonight’s Dinner/Peanut Sauce:

Ingredients:
1 20oz can coconut milk (Mae Ploy is best, just please not any American brand)
1T oil (coconut is best, peanut or whatever is fine)

Paste:
1 thumb sized knob of galangal
same sized piece ginger
4 or 5 cloves of garlic
4 or 5 little shallots
some rehydrated long dried chilis (just pour warm water on them and let them sit, i usually use 5 or 6 but it’s up to you)

around 1-2T palm sugar or jaggery (or brown sugar if you’re lazy)
a big splash of fish sauce
a few big spoonfuls of peanut butter (1/3C?)
a splash of neutral vinegar
a squirt of sriracha

Method:
Pour the watery half of the coconut milk into a bowl; scrape the creamy half into your cooking vessel (wok or whatever). Add the oil, and cook over medium heat, stirring once in awhile. It might splatter, be careful. Let it cook down until you’re left with off-white curds frying in oil. Takes a bit of time.

Meanwhile, peel all of your paste ingredients, cut up, and food process into a thick paste. Might have to add a tiny bit of water if your processor is lame. Don’t add too much.

When your coconut milk is sufficiently broken, add the paste and fry over medium heat for five or seven minutes. It’ll smell cooked by then, not just like raw garlic. Add the sugar and fry for another minute or two, then fish sauce, same thing. Add your peanut butter and vinegar and amalgamate. Then dump in your reserved thin coconut milk-water. Stir and cook for just a minute or two more. Add a little salt if you want, and the sriracha.

Garnish: basil leaves, bean sprouts, cucumber, green onion, fried tofu, that kind of thing.

Serve over rice, with garnish. Makes enough for four or five hungry people. Good as leftovers, too.

In the picture above, Peter’s not actually making this peanut sauce, but a curry dish based on the same break-the-cocunut-milk technique. If you make this recipe, let us know how you like it!

Becky Stern

Becky Stern

Becky Stern (sternlab.org is a DIY guru and director of wearable electronics at Adafruit. She publishes a new project video every week and hosts a live show on YouTube. Formerly Becky was Senior Video Producer for MAKE. Becky lives in Brooklyn, NY and belongs to art groups Free Art & Technology (“release early, often, and with rap music”) and Madagascar Institute (“fear is never boring”).


  • Hashi

    “Add your peanut butter and vinegar and amalgamate.” What is the amalgamate?

  • Rebecca Stern

    Amalgamate is a verb, it means to stir. So add the peanut butter and vinegar and stir it until it’s thoroughly incorporated.

  • Anonymous

    So glad I read about this recipe with various products from Thailand. I’m so pround for Thai words appear around here.
    The paste is packed with herbs and they are all good for your stomach. Those of you who live in winter, I trust you will enjoy this.

  • andrea

    I just finished making a double-portion of this for a group of people we’re having over and it’s great!

  • Becky Stern

    @andrea That’s so great! I made a batch last night too, yum!

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