2 Tbs olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced OR 2 Tbs. pre-minced from a jar
2 Tbs. red curry paste
2 tsp. curry powder
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. smooth peanut butter
1 c. unsweetened coconut milk
2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1/2 c. dark brown sugar, packed
1 c. coarsely chopped roasted unsalted peanuts
1 c. hot water
Juice of 1/2 small (2") lime
1. Heat the oil in 2 qt or larger saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, 3-5 minutes. Be careful not to let the garlic burn. Remove from heat.
2. Add the chili paste, curry powder and salt and stir to combine.
3. Stir in the peanut butter, coconut milk, vinegar, brown sugar and 1/4 c. of hot water. Stir well and simmer for 1-2 minutes, until the sauce thickens and the peanut butter is incorporated. Remove from heat.
4. Add 1/2 c. of peanuts to the sauce and puree with an immersion ("stick") blender OR transfer to blender to puree. Add lime juice and up to 1/4 c. of water to thin sauce to desired thickness. Taste and adjust seasonings; you may want more salt or a bit more vinegar to bring out the flavors.
5. Transfer to a bowl, garnish with remaining peanuts and serve.
Makes approximately 4 cups.
Good to know
This sauce is great as an appetizer dip with grilled chicken kabobs (recipe here) or - thinned slightly with some of the extra coconut milk - as a sauce for pasta. The recipe makes a lot, but it freezes well. I love putting food in my freezer that I can't wait to take out!
Use full fat OR low fat coconut milk. The coconut milk may have separated, as in the photo above; just try to get proportional amounts of solid and liquid in the 1 cup measure. Separation is less likely with the low fat version.
Although the recipe calls for "white wine vinegar", any mild vinegar will work well. I like the white balsamic vinegar sold by Trader Joes for this and many other purposes.
Curry paste may be sold in jars or in a plastic container as in the photo above. This is a critical ingredient, so please don't substitute. You should be able to purchase it in the Asian aisle of a well-stocked grocery store or of course at an Asian market such as H-Mart. This is not the same as the curry powder in the spice aisle, also pictured above and used in this recipe.
In my house, there are three levels of spiciness: "kid spicy", "adult spicy" and "developing world spicy". This recipe is "adult spicy"; to make a "kid spicy" version, use only 1 Tbs. of curry paste, and for "developing world spicy" use up to 1/4 cup.