Something about the way peanut sauce tastes has always made me think it would be complicated to create at home. It’s something that I love at restaurants but never venture to try on my own. That changed tonight when I was determined to make something somewhat homemade to go with our favorite Trader Joe’s shrimp & veggie potstickers (if you haven’t tried them you should).
Luckily I had a recent Cooking Light magazine on hand with an inspiring ‘Indonesian Peanut Dressing.’ Does anyone else love checking out magazines from the library?
Their recipe called for a pretty simple list of ingredients, but based on the flavors we like and what I could find, I switched things up a little. It is tempting to read a recipe in a magazine, cookbook or on a blog and rule it out because you don’t have the exact ingredients on hand (and no desire to go out and buy an entire jar/bottle/bag of something that you might never use again). I try to find the key flavors and then substitute accordingly.
So, for example, here is the ingredient list from Cooking Light’s recipe, followed by the flavor and my substitution.
- peanut butter (nutty, smooth flavor) –> almond butter
- hot water –> hot water / no substitute needed
- fresh lime juice (citrus, acidic) –> fresh lemon juice
- soy sauce (salty) –> soy sauce / no substitute needed because we had this on hand
- brown sugar (sweet) –> honey
- thai red curry paste (spicy) –> hot pepper jelly & hot sauce
I was skeptical of all these flavors and textures mixing together, but I put in a bit of each, tasted as I whisked, and was pleasantly surprised!
This ended up being the perfect sauce for our potstickers and dressing for our salad. I loved the combination of rich, salty, sweet, acidic and spicy flavors. It would be awesome on grilled veggie kabobs.
If there is a recipe that seems intimidating to you, I challenge you to break it down to flavors, make some simple substitutions, and give it a shot!