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Vegan Planet: Easy Peanut Sauce

Thursday, October 13, 2011

 

Easy Peanut Sauce


During this Vegan Month of Food, I have designated themes for each day of the week.  This is “Food for Thought” Thursday, and today my thoughts are about peanut butter in general and my favorite easy peanut sauce in particular.

I think of peanut butter as kind of an ambassador for vegan food.  High in protein and rich in flavor, a little peanut butter goes a long way. It’s one of those ingredients that has historically, in the U.S. at least, been shrugged off as little more than an ingredient for a popular lunchbox sandwich.  However, in other parts of the world, from African to Asia, peanut butter is enjoyed in all manner of dishes, from stews and soups, to appetizers, sauces, sides, and desserts.

In recent years, this unassuming spread has been overshadowed by pricier nut butters made from almonds, cashews, and other nuts and seeds.  Still, it was peanut butter that was first developed in the U.S. by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg in the 1890s as a high-protein health food and meat alternative. (Let's hear it for Dr. Kellogg!)

One of my favorite ways to enjoy peanut butter is in a spicy peanut sauce.  Variations of peanut sauce can be found throughout many Asian cuisines.  Over the years, I’ve made countless versions, some cooked, some raw, sometimes thin, other times thick. I’ve varied the sweetener, used lime juice or rice vinegar to add tartness, and changed up the heat source.

My all-time favorite version is also the easiest and it can be found on page 202 of Vegan Fire and Spice.  I have since tinkered a bit more with that recipe, adding a little Thai chili sauce and increasing the volume a bit so there’s enough to use as a sauce for noodles or pasta as shown in the photo.  (I made this peanutty pasta dish for a recent cooking demo in Baltimore.)

Here, then, is the recipe for my latest favorite peanut sauce.  The amount of water you add will depend on whether you’re using it as a dipping sauce for spring rolls or tossing with pasta and vegetables, and so on.


(Easy) Spicy Peanut Sauce
Adapted from Vegan Fire and Spice by Robin Robertson © 2010. Published by Vegan Heritage Press.

2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sweet Thai chili sauce
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Asian chili paste
About 1/2 cup water

In a bowl, combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, chili sauce, sugar, and chili paste.  Mix until well blended.  Stir in as much water as needed to achieve the desired consistency.  Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Use at once or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.


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Comments:
I have Peanut Butter Planet and think it's great. My younger son and I love all things peanutty (he was most upset that he goes to a nut free school but has settled into sunflower seed butter ok for school lunches) but my older son doesn't like anything with nuts so I have to balance how often I cook with them.
 
I love peanut butter, it is so great! I have only recently twigged to the existence Peanut Butter Planet, which is now sitting on my wishlist for upcoming purchases. :)
 
Actually, Peanut Butter Planet is currently out of print (although I realize copies are still available).

I've been considering doing a new/revised edition -- possibly including other nut butters as well. Still trying to assess if the world needs a new peanut butter cookbook!
 
How sad life would be if Dr Kellogg hadn't have come up with PB!
Peanut sauce is my all time favourite thing EVER! I eat that stuff straight out of the pan.
:-)
 
Actually, you are incorrect. George Washington Carver came up with peanut butter in the early 1880s but refused to patent it as he believed food stuffs were gifts from God. John Harvey Kellogg did patent his peanut butter making process in 1895. George Washington Carver and Dr. John Harvey Kellogg are celebrated as great innovators at the Henry Ford museum, of which I am a member. Here are links to about.com with a brief history of peanut butter http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blpeanutbutter.htm And there is a traveling exhibition sponsored by the Field Museum of Chicago about George Washington Carver http://fieldmuseum.org/about/traveling-exhibitions/george-washington-carver. I don't know for sure which cities is is coming to except for Dearborn MI but you may want to check it out.
 
Actually, you are incorrect. George Washington Carver came up with peanut butter in the early 1880s but refused to patent it as he believed food stuffs were gifts from God. John Harvey Kellogg did patent his peanut butter making process in 1895. George Washington Carver and Dr. John Harvey Kellogg are celebrated as great innovators at the Henry Ford museum, of which I am a member. Here are links to about.com with a brief history of peanut butter http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blpeanutbutter.htm And there is a traveling exhibition sponsored by the Field Museum of Chicago about George Washington Carver http://fieldmuseum.org/about/traveling-exhibitions/george-washington-carver. I don't know for sure which cities is is coming to except for Dearborn MI but you may want to check it out.
 
Thanks for pointing out the need for clarification. I should have said that Dr. Kellogg was the first to develop it specifically for, and deem it as, a high-protein alternative to meat. Dr. Carver surely deserves credit for his groundbreaking work with this fabulous food. That exhibit sounds fantastic -- I hope it finds its way to the DC area!
 
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