Saturday, January 15, 2011

Easy Satay

This comes with a disclaimer: it's not the healthiest meal on this site. Sure, it's a whole lot better than shoving a hunk of beef into your mouth, or loading up on butter. Unless, of course, you're allergic to peanuts, in which case you might like to try this using almond butter instead of peanut. Unless you're also allergic to almonds, in which case, make your own damn recipes. ;)

This is an easy satay sauce, both rich and moreish. I like to serve it with slices of cucumber or a green salad to cut through the richness, and it's fantastic over rice or stirred through hokkien-style noodles. You can use whichever vegetables you have on hand, provided that you keep it colourful. The real reason why I often make this dish (the deliciousness of peanuts aside, here) is that it's great for hiding leftovers, or worse, something that I haven't liked all that much.

You can rest assured that it wasn't the above kale that I disliked. No, siree. My pain was self-inflicted; I stand entirely guilty of purchasing white asparagus out of season (c'mon, 1 euro 11 cents for a huge bunch!) and it was bitter. I'm still a little sensitive to bitter tastes, as much as I'm readily developing an addiction to olives, and have rediscovered the joys of broccoli. And that white asparagus wasn't going to eat itself. So I hid it in a sauce gutsy enough to disguise the bitter overtones, whilst still letting me enjoy the texture. Take that, Asparagus gods!

Yes, that is a giant hunk of peanut butter in the above photo. I'm not joking when I tell you that this sauce is easy. At its most basic, it can be cut down to four ingredients, but trust me when I tell you that it benefits from the addition of fried aromatics... oh, and the vegetables, of course. ;) Generally I make this sauce for chunks of crispy tofu, which I double-coat in spiced cornflour before frying. Unfortunately, I not only lack cooking oil (which is probably a good thing, in retrospect) but I'm also trying to eat healthier, after an overdose of unhealthy while I was away. So I figured that this sauce was naughty enough without involving anything fried in masses of oil. If you want the full deal, however, you know what I'll be recommending!

Easy Satay

2 spring onions, sliced
2 tsp sambal oelek*
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3cm piece ginger, finely chopped
1 zucchini, cubed
4 huge leaves kale or other green, chopped
2 cups sliced button mushrooms (mine were small, therefore just quartered)
1 bunch white asparagus, peeled and cut into 3cm lengths
2/3 cup frozen peas (optional; I was just finishing off the pack)
250g firm tofu, preferably fried until crisp in spiced cornflour coating!
1 x 400g can coconut milk (or coconut cream; make sure it's unsweetened)
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup sweet chilli sauce
rice, to serve

Sautee the spring onion, garlic, chilli and ginger in a tiny splash of oil until the garlic is cooked. Add vegetables, excluding peas (if using) and asparagus, and sautee for two minutes, or until just beginning to soften.
Add asparagus, peanut butter, coconut milk, soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce. Stirring constantly, allow the sauce to blend together and thicken slightly. Add water if you like a thinner sauce.
Simmer for four to five minutes, or until the asparagus is crisp-tender.
At the last moment, add the frozen peas and fried tofu. (If using plain tofu, add it with the asparagus.) Stir gently, so that the crispy coating doesn't fall from the tofu.
Serve immediately, over a bed of rice or noodles, and eat until you want to explode. :)

*my measurement for the sambal could be wrong, because the particular brand I bought just doesn't seem spicy! :(

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