I’m prone to laughter, generally. Often as the direct result of emails from my friends. Usually, though, it’s because they’re recounting inappropriate behavior or the like. It’s rare for me to start cackling from a recipe.
And, yet, when my friend Ben sent his peanut sauce recipe my way, I couldn’t help but giggle. It was at least partially due to his insistence on referring to peanuts as “ground nuts” (yeah, I don’t know either, but am inclined to think this is an American/British English thing, much like my “aubergine”/”eggplant” confusion had been when I lived there). Mostly, though, it was the instructions themselves, which reflected his personality perfectly.
Turns out he makes a killer peanut sauce. I only wish we lived on the same continent so that we could share it. (Also: so that he could help me with the actual cooking and, even better, tell me when I’m using way too many bird chillies. Those things are spicy.)
I’ve included his recipe here, with some tweaks that I made because I was serving it alongside chicken satays and wanted the flavors to echo each other.
And, so without further ado:
1/2 cup peanuts
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter. The best type to use is the organic, tastes-like-cardboard type.
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp lemon juice
1 onion, medium
12-24 dried chillies, soaked in water
2 tbsp peanut oil
sugar/salt to taste
Pop the peanuts in a pan and brown on all sides on a low heat for about 20/30 mins. Set aside to cool. When cool, rub between hands to remove the skins. pop into a grinder and coarse grind it.
Using a blender, grind the chillies and red onion into a paste.
Heat the oil in a pan on medium heat, when the oil is starting to heat up, add the chilli and onion paste. Stand back and use a long spatula/wooden spoon or you’re going to cry.
Continue frying the paste mixture for about 15 minutes on low heat, at some point, the oil will take on the redness of the chili. Add the water, soy sauce and peanut butter and mix well. Simmer on low heat until the flavors have combined.
Take the peanut, chili and onion mixture and return it the blender. Blend, adding the lemon juice and additional water until you’ve reached the desired consistency for the sauce.
Adjust taste with additional salt and sugar as needed.
Remove the blender and stir in the ground peanuts. This gives it the impression you’ve slaved all day grinding groundnuts.
Coat everything you like with wild abandon and enjoy.