(good on everything!)
The first time I made this, I used a recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook, a staple in my mother’s kitchen. I’ve since made so many variations, I can’t keep track, but I will share a few with you below.
The components of the sauce can be altered around a flavor theme, or your own taste buds.
Start with: • 1 cup peanut butter (or more for a bigger batch). Many recipes say not to use “natural” or “chunky” varieties, but I don’t see why you can’t. Your sauce will just have a different texture – grainy with the natural kind, and chunky (shockingly) with the chunky kind.
Stir in a bowl with ½ cup boiling water – you could also use broth, coconut milk or even juice instead – but it must be hot to mix in. Stir slowly, it will come together eventually. If the mixture is too thick, add more boiling water by tablespoonful until the right consistency is reached. I leave it thicker if I am going to use it as a dipping sauce (for veggies, chicken or tofu skewers, etc), and I’ll make it thinner if I am going to pour it over something (noodles, veggie stir-fry).
• 3 to 5 tablespoons vinegar (rice and apple cider work well)
• 3 to 5 tablespoons sugar (you can use honey or other sweeteners if you like)
• 2 to 3 cloves of minced garlic
• 4 to 6 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil (the dark, rich smelling stuff)
• 2 to 4 tablespoons of soy sauce (or tamari or braggs)
Stir together until smooth. I give ranges here, but feel free to go above or below them to suit you. Taste it and ask yourself what flavors you sense….if you mostly taste peanut butter, then you need to add more seasonings. If it tastes too sour, add a bit more sugar, too sweet, add a bit more vinegar and soy sauce. There should be a nice flavor of sesame, so adjust for that as well. If you like more garlic, add more. When I first started making this, I never added enough sugar or vinegar, but soon realized that those flavors were missing. Play around, you’ll find it – when you taste it and think “Yum!” then you’ve probably got it right.
At this point, you could add other spices such as cayenne, chile paste (sambaal or sriracha), thai green or red curry paste, grated ginger, or chopped chiles. Taste again – it is all about what is pleasing to your palate and what you’ll be serving it with. I have used it for a coleslaw dressing and added a good bit more vinegar to thin it out and give it some kick, of course I needed more salt as well, to flavor the cabbage. If I am using it as a dipping sauce, I like it to be a bit spicier, since it won’t be permeating a dish.