Healthy Peanut Sauce & Tofu Marinade.

It’s amazing the difference a good sauce can make.  Just a few simple ingredients whisked together can suddenly transport a dish from Asia to Italy – and generally, it all comes down to sauce.

As a self-proclaimed peanut butter addict, it should come as no surprise that peanut sauce is one of my favorite indulgences to find on a restaurant menu.  I use the world indulgence, because unfortunately most of them need to be just that.  While absolutely delicious, peanut sauce is right up there with alfredo – known for being one of the highest calorie and fat sauce offenders on restaurant menus. 

My favorite dish in all of Old Town comes from Mai Thai restaurant, and is called Pa Ram Jae – sautéed tofu in a light yellow curry sauce on a bed of steamed watercress topped with peanut sauce.  It is so rich and delicious that it can only mean one thing – it is not even remotely healthy.

While I do like to treat myself to Pa Ram Jae every now and then, more often I choose to make my own back at the house.  With just four simple ingredients, you too can make delicious, healthy peanut sauce…

Four-Ingredient Healthy Peanut Sauce (& Tofu Marinade)

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  • 1/4 cup peanut flour (or PB2)
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
  • 3 tbsp water

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To Prepare:  Before we dive into the preparation, let’s talk for a minute about a few of the ingredients.  I’ve gone into great detail about my love for peanut flour before.  And just for you folks that don’t have Trader Joe’s – look what I found!  Trader Joe’s Peanut Flour – now available from Amazon.  Yes, it is slightly more expensive than it costs in store, but that part is out of my control.  If I could buy it and ship it to all of you, I promise I would.  For now, at least there is an online option!

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I have also received a few questions about another ingredient I use quite often – liquid aminos.  What exactly is this stuff?  Liquid aminos is an unfermented substitute for soy sauce, that is slightly lower in sodium than traditional soy sauce, as well as higher in amino acids and minerals.  The most commonly seen bottle is Bragg’s.  If you don’t have this, soy sauce or tamari are both similar substitutes.

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Okay, so onto the sauce!  Now comes the easy part.  Dump all four ingredients, plus water, into a bowl and whisk to combines!

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Viola!  Delicious peanut sauce – as easy as that!

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Now what to use it for?  Honestly the possibilities are endless…

  • tossed with udon noodles
  • poured over an Asian stir-fry
  • salad dressing
  • dipping sauce for veggies

A few weeks ago I took a poll on Facebook, asking readers what they would like to see more of on Daily Garnish in 2011.  I was so excited to see the number of people looking for more ways to enjoy TOFU!  And it doesn’t get much better than tofu with peanut sauce. 

To get started, first make sure to check out the original tofu tutorial, since we will be following the same process here.  Press tofu under cookbooks for 10-15 minutes in order to remove excess moisture.

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Then heat a non-stick pan over medium high heat and add a tsp of sesame oil.  Once the pan is hot, add the tofu and arrange in a single layer.

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Flip the tofu several times until it is starting to brown on all sides.

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Since the peanut sauce is pretty salt-heavy, you can skip the salt & pepper step from the original tutorial.  Once your tofu has good browning, it’s time to add the sauce.  Make sure your pan is really hot, and get ready to work quickly.  Pour the sauce onto the pan…

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And then quickly stir, stir, stir!

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It will get very sticky and thick almost immediately.  Once all the sauce is in the pan, keep stirring and remove the pan from the heat (so that the sauce doesn’t burn).

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The end result is crispy tofu cubes coated in thick, rich peanut sauce.  Doesn’t get much better than that.

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This tofu is wonderful all by itself, served over noodles or rice, or even thrown on top of a colorful salad…

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Make sure to make a little extra sauce to use as salad dressing!

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While traditional restaurant peanut sauces need to be saved for special occasions, this healthy alternative is something you could make several times a week.  Not that I would know…

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