Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Peanut Dressing

Peanut Butter, the miracle food. Ashley needs only a spoon and maybe some chocolate chips to enjoy the sticky stuff, which she does pretty much every day. I love chocolate and peanut butter like any red-blooded American, but the thick, greasy paste coats my mouth and leaves me thirsty. In our house, because I don't eat it by the spoonful every day, it sometimes seems like I am a PB hater. Not true! But I do prefer to thin the stickiness out of the PB and turn it into peanut sauce. And peanut sauce... that I can eat every day!

My mom taught me never to fear peanut sauce. If you have peanut butter, you have what it takes to make peanut sauce. Where some peanut sauces are made on the stovetop, carefully simmered to transform the texture, no such complication is necessary for a simple sauce like this one. The basic recipe for peanut sauce is ridiculously easy: take peanut butter, add about equal parts water. Mash it up with a fork and it will look like a sloppy mess: like oil and water, it won't mix. Until it does! A minute later, it is smooth, creamy and rich. Not thick and sticky anymore, but a sauce! Of course, this sauce will taste like watered-down peanut butter. So I like to add flavorful additions: something salty, something tangy, something spicy and something sweet. The balance of flavors is yours to choose. For this recipe, I added some extra acid and thinned it out to a dressing-like consistency so I can pour it over a ridiculously huge and jam-packed salad.
This salad is inspired by Rutabegorz, an oldschool health-foody restaurant chain in Southern California, the kind that serves up 1970's-style meals in an old house. The "Veggie Thai Salad" is not very Thai at all, but it is so good and so huge. Aside from a vast array of vegetables, it has brown rice with raisins and peanuts, which sounds weird but is actually really delicious. I topped off this version with some miso-ginger baked tempeh and garnished it with lots of toasted peanuts and sesame seeds.  This recipe is just what I made this time around. Play with flavors, make it rich and make it exactly as you want it!
Peanut Dressing
Balance flavors according to your taste. This can hold up to a lot of spice!
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tbs miso, light or dark, or soy sauce
1 inch fresh ginger, minced or grated
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground coriander
1-2 tbs. sriracha, or hot sauce of your choice
1 tbs. agave nectar, or sugar
juice of 1 lemon or lime
vinegar, to taste
salt, to taste
water, as needed
Start by adding a few spoonfuls of water to peanut butter. It will still be thick, but easier to combine with other ingredients than peanut butter alone. Add miso (or soy sauce), ginger, garlic, coriander, hot sauce, agave and lemon juice. Stir vigorously to combine. Chances are it will still be very thick. Add water, one little splash at a time, until it begins looking like peanut sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding vinegar as needed to make dressing. Depending on how much salt (and maybe sugar) your peanut butter has, you may need to add more. I like extra hot sauce. It should be thin and pourable when you're finished, about the texture of ranch dressing.


  1. can we replace the peanut butter with something else?like almond butter?

    1. YES Paymahn! Thai-style Almond Dressing sounds delicious! Also tahini is a great substitution.
      Let me know how it turns out...