I feel a great sauce is like a person’s most reliable suit or nicest basic dress. It proves its thrift and usefulness again and again.
In culinary school, you learn about “mother sauces,” from which most other sauces are made, but to be honest, they also focus heavily on the French method, and the French really weren’t into peanuts, so I feel like they missed out on this one.
A spicy peanut sauce turns out to be one of those elemental sauces. I know I’m going to run the risk of making this peanut week around here (Heck… why not just make it peanut week around here?), but I propose a good peanut sauce as part of your recipe box of easy options… it’s certainly part of a recession-proof recipe package.
As ag booster (and legume-hacker) George Washington Carver popularly pointed out, peanuts are supremely useful little legumes. Not only can you use the humble peanut to make paint, dye and nitroglycerin… they’re both cheap, flexible and tasty.
A savory peanut sauce is not merely versatile, it’s also a flexible meal-maker in which both meat lovers and vegetarians can rejoice. (My apologies to the folks with allergies.)
Ginger-Peanut Sauce for Soba, Salad or Slaw (Serves 4)
For the Base
1/2 lb soba noodles, cooked according to package instructions, rinsed and cooled
1/4 head cabbage, finely sliced & 2 carrots, shredded
1 head boston or butterhead lettuce, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
For the Sauce:
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
1-2 tsp hot sauce (or more, if you like it hot)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil (optional)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp lime juice
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
2/3 cup vegetable oil
3 radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro or mint, roughly chopped
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup (1 ounce) peanuts, chopped
1/2 cup cooked, sliced chicken, pork or beef
Blend peanut butter, vinegar, hot sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce, lime juice and fresh ginger. Whisk in vegetable oil slowly.
Toss peanut sauce with cooked soba noodles or cabbage/carrots or torn lettuce.
Top with your choice of optional accessory ingredients and serve. The soba and slaw keep well, but if you’re not serving a lettuce salad immediately, wait to dress it until just before serving.
Yours in good, cheap eats,