Thai cuisine is really better described as four regional cuisines corresponding to the four main regions of the country. The cooking of Thailand has been influenced by China and India while maintaining a unique taste of its own. Like Vietnamese food, Thai food uses fresh (rather than dried) herbs and spices as well as the ingredient found in almost all Thai dishes and every region of the country: nam pla, a very aromatic and strong tasting fish sauce.
Indispensable with satay, this sauce also works as a nice dip for a number of other Asian appetizers (like cold spring rolls) and all kinds of grilled meats. Thinned out with some water, it makes a beautiful salad dressing for sprout salads, like the Indonesian gado-gado. The peanuts that this recipe calls for are widely available. The red curry paste is imported from Thailand. Maesri, Wandee's favorite brand of red curry paste, comes in 4-oz tins. You'll need half a tin per recipe and you can bag and freeze the rest for future use.
Serves 4 or more
5 oz roasted unsalted peanuts
4 cups unsweetened coconut milk
2 tbsp red curry paste
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 tsp fish sauce
1. Blend or process the peanuts until they are fine meal. Reserve.
2. Heat half the coconut milk in a saucepan at high heat and add the red curry paste. Stir to dissolve and continue cooking at high heat for 10-12 minutes, until the oil from the coconut has risen to the surface.
3. Lower heat to medium-high and add processed peanuts. Stir and add the rest of the coconut milk. Bring to bubbling boil. Lower heat to medium and add sugar, lemon juice and fish sauce, Cook, stirring accasionally, for 15-20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened somewhat and the oil has returned to the surface.
4. Take off the fire and let rest for a half hour. Stir to blend oil that has nsen to the surface. It should be the consistency of thick cream. If thlcker than thatj add a couple of tablespoons of water or coconut milk and blend.
5. The sauce can be served lukewarm or reheated to piping hot. Leftover sauce can be refrigerated (where it will solidify) and then reheated on a slow fire, thinned down with some water or coconut milk. It can also be frozen, and reheated another day, the same way.
Simply Thai Cooking
Wandee Young and Byron Ayanoglu
Robert Rose, Inc., 1996
Recipe reprinted by permission.
from Kate's Global Kitchen
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This page modified January 2007
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