Monday, February 11, 2008

The perfect peanut sauce...

I want it!

D and I go to Thai Cafe on Washington Street in Royal Oak. If you live in the area and haven't yet tried it, do so immediately. You see, D has long had them create his custom-built dinner: the V4 Pad Prik with peanut sauce instead of brown sauce.

It didn't take long for me to fall in love with this dish too, and now it's MY obsession and he still enjoys it. I fantasize about getting to Michigan so A) I can get back in his lovin' arms (of course), and B) we can immediately depart for Thai Cafe.

V4 Pad Prik consist of tofu, green peppers, mushrooms, onions and sometimes red peppers in a sea of the perfectly spiced peanut sauce. Now that Thai Cafe offers brown rice, it's downright perfection on every level.

Sure, it has its ups and downs. Sometimes the onions are a little underdone. Sometimes the sauce is just a little off... but nothing can dissuade me from returning for it again and again. (And if peanut sauce isn't your thing, I like their green curry too).

There are DOZENS and dozens of peanut sauce recipes out there. The first I tried involved vanilla yogurt. D liked it for what it was. I didn't like it, for what it wasn't. It just tasted totally different than Thai Cafe. Too sweet. Not sassy enough.

Our trusty watiress Kane finally let us in on a secret -- there's red curry in the sauce!

I started incorporating red curry paste when I would give it a shot (you know, since I have a little jar of it in the refrigerator for when I make the Best Soup in the Whole Wide World). With each attempt I liked it better, but still it was never close enough.

I put the detective work on hold for awhile and we went back to patronizing Thai Cafe reguarly. I mean, maybe I should just give up. Why do I need to know how to make it when I can drive 10 minutes and taste perfection for $9? (Or $11.50 with the brown rice).

But I took another stab at it last week, based on a recipe I found on the Food Network site. It went a little something like this:

2 Tbsp. peanut oil
2 Tbsp. red curry paste
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
1 c. Coconut milk
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
lime juice
salt and pepper

I must say, it was the closest yet. Though I liked the spice, I think next time I'll use a little less red curry paste and a little less soy sauce. But overall, I'd say it was a success!

If anyone else has a great peanut sauce recipe, I'd love to see them.

2 comments:

Daniel said...

This blog could use more food-writing words. You know, stuff like creamy, delectable, mouth-watering, moist, succulent... You get the idea.

Work on it.

brooke said...

first off, i have finally found success in mastering my favorite peanut sauce from Ploy II in San francisco. T his happened just 2 days ago. I am still in Peanut Sauce bliss. This sauce is more for your satays and sticky rices and used as a dip..but shit its good..I mean, delectable. I'll share the recipe "offline" if ya know what i mean.

But for my sauce that goes on veggies and rice, here are my ingredients: mas o menos
1. sauteed garlic, ginger, lemongrass (if you have it) and finely chopped onion in sesame oil
2. Stir in peanut butter, honey or brown sugar (sometimes in sf i put in molasses)
3. coco milk
4. a touch of fish sauce or soy sauce
5. sambal ulek or crushed red pepper
6. i'd throw in a little dried cumin and cilantro too..
taste and add anything else it needs...