I've made peanut sauce over the years and while it's tasty, it's never just like that one I used to get at that Thai restaurant.
This is as close as I've ever come.
You have to hunt down the shrimp paste, but you can find it at an Asian grocery - or ask your friend who's going to a city to swing by a place like that. Here's what it looks like.
Two things you should be noticing right now. First, the price. What? $1.29! You can afford to use it only once. This is not some old pricing, either. I bought this a month ago when we were in Minneapolis.
The second thing you're noticing is my band-aide. All these years of cooking. Every single day, multiple times a day. And I finally cut my finger. Cutting romaine lettuce of all things. Good thing it wasn't something harder because our knives are razor sharp. So sharp that I never put them in the sink in case I forget they're there when I wash dishes.
Okay. I'm sidetracked. On to the peanut sauce.
Here's most of the ingredients.
Sharee's Peanut Sauce like you find in a Restaurant
- 1 1/2 cups peanuts (you see I used regular old Planters - no skins)
- 1 1/2 tsp shrimp paste
- 1 fresh chili (I didn't have any so I added red pepper flakes) make it as hot as you like
- 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 2 T palm sugar or coconut sugar (use dark brown sugar in a pinch)
- 3/4 cup coconut milk (full fat, unsweetened)
- 1 T cider vinegar (rice vinegar would work, too)
- 3/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 3/4 cup water
Put the peanuts in a large food processor and pulse until they are well ground. They should be the consistency of sand. Be careful that you don't pulse too much and end up with peanut butter! Leave them in the processor.
This part seems picky, but it's key. Place the shrimp paste in the center of a 5-inch square of aluminum foil. Fold the edges over to form a small packet and press down with the heel of your hand to flatten the shrimp paste into a disk 1/4 inch thick. Using a pair of tongs, place the packet directly over the heat source. Toast until the paste begins to release a shrimpy smell (about 1 1/2 minutes). Use the tongs to turn the packet over and toast for about another minute. Take it off the heat and let it cool.
Take the toasted paste out of the packet and plop it into the food processor with the peanuts. Add the chili, garlic, and sugar to the food processor and pulse until you have a well-ground mixture. Don't over grind - it should NOT be creamy like a smooth peanut butter.
Transfer the ground ingredients to a saute pan. Add the coconut milk and stir well to combine. The mixture will be quite thick. Cook at a gentle simmer, stirring constantly, until a few droplets of oil release from the coconut milk, 5-7 minutes. (If the oil doesn't do this, don't worry. Just proceed after 7 minutes anyway.)
Add the vinegar and salt and stir well to combine. Add the water and stir again to combine. The sauce should be the consistency of pea soup. If it's thicker than that, add water a little at a time. If it's too thin, let it slowly bubble away for 3-5 minutes until it thickens.
Taste for salt and add a pinch more if needed.
Use this sauce over steamed veggies and meat or tofu with rice. You could also use it as a dipping sauce! You can eat it hot or at room temperature.
It should store in the fridge for a week. But we ate it in like one sitting. It's dangerously good.