There are few things that do not taste better with this sauce on them. It is quite spicy and will induce a little bit of sweat while you are eating it, but it is generally not unpleasantly hot. This is the classic peanut sauce to serve with Chicken Sateh. It is richly flavored and would be overly sweet if it weren’t for the tamarind, which adds a fantastic tart flavor that pulls it back from the brink.
There are a couple of things worth noting about this recipe. There is not much complicated about the technique here, but the ingredients that you use matter. If you don’t do much Thai cooking, you may not be familiar with the concept of curry paste. When you say the work “curry” in teh context of Thai cooking, this is the stuff that you are talking about. Rather than the yellow powder that you buy in a jar, curry paste is a complex blend of chilies, garlic, shallots, lemon grass, galangal, lime leaves/rind, and other spices. Fortunately, it comes in a plastic tub so you don’t have to make it yourself. Mae Ploy is the brand I use and it is available in most asian grocery stores. If you can’t find it, drop me a line and I can explain how to make it from scratch.
The second ingredient that you need to embrace for this recipe is tamarind. It is bean like pod that comes from a particularly attractive tropical tree. Chances are, if you have been to Hawaii, you have seen these. The interior of these pods is a sticky sweet mess of goodness. This pulp is harvested and sold in a variety of formats including pressed block (with or without seeds), syrup, and concentrate. The concentrate resembles a thin jam and comes in a jar. I prefer concentrate for this recipe as it packs a nice sharp flavor and is really convenient. If all you can find is the pressed block, just hack a chunk off and dissolve it in water.
While you are simmering this sauce, letting it develop flavors just short of bubbling, you may notice some reddish oils beginning to separate from the main bulk of the sauce. If you see this, pat yourself on the back; you win! In my experience, this is a good indicator that you have heated the sauce thoroughly enough to properly meld the flavors. Time to pull it off the stove and dump it on some food. Enjoy.
- ¼ cup red curry paste
- 2 cups coconut milk
- ½ cup chunky peanut butter
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup tamarind concentrate
- dash salt
- In a medium saucepan, heat ¼ cup coconut milk and curry paste over medium high heat. Stir to combine. Simmer until mixture is smooth and curry is fragrant.
- Reduce heat to medium, add remaining ingredients and bring to a low simmer. Reduce heat slightly and continue cooking until ingredients are well combined and sauce has thickened slightly.