Think of spicy peanut sauce as an accessory to plain, healthy foods. Add a little to chicken breast, green vegetables or tofu and watch boring become interesting.
There are traditional peanut sauce recipes that are much more complex. This one has its own simple charm: Six ingredients, a quick stir and it’s done.
Peanut sauces can be weighed down with sugar; this one calls for just one teaspoon in five servings. That works out to only about 1 gram of added sugar per serving. (You can try omitting the sugar, but since the sauce has so few ingredients, it would lack that addictive spicy sweet heat.)
Credit for the recipe goes to longtime New York Times health columnist Jane Brody. Brody, now retired, also wrote best selling cookbooks; she included her “Szechuan Noodles With Peanut Sauce” in her Good Food Cookbook. I just slashed carbs by keeping the sauce the same and omitting the pasta.
When I made the recipe last week, I first added it to stir fry children and peppers. The next day, I used the peanut sauce to top sautéed tofu. Finally, I mixed the sauce into some steamed cauliflower rice. I would’ve finished the bowl but we went to visit our son in Chicago.
The peanut sauce relies on ingredients that can be found in any grocery store. It takes maybe 10 minutes to make (including washing and chopping some scallions) and can be made ahead. Figure about 100 calories a generous two tablespoon serving.
The basic recipe has some heat from the red pepper flakes; the amount can be altered to taste. When making a dish that contains red pepper flakes, I first add half the amount called for, then taste and adjust.
Spicy Peanut Sauce
- 1/3 Cup natural peanut butter
- 1/3 Cup hot water
- 2 Tsp soy sauce reduced sodium OK
- 2 Tsp vinegar rice vinegar is esp. good
- 2 scallions Use white part, minced
- 1 Tsp sugar
- 1/4 Tsp hot pepper flakes adjust amount to taste
- Spoon peanut butter into medium sized bowl. Whisk in one tablespoon of hot water, mixing thoroughly. Then add rest of water, tablespoon by tablespoon until peanut butter and water are completely mixed.
- Add rest of ingredients, stir thoroughly.Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 3 days. If using from refrigerator, allow sauce to come to room temperature. If sauce is too thick, add a little water or 1/2 teaspoon neutral tasting oil, then mix well.