Comfort Food

Even the most sophisticated and demanding of gourmets is likely to have a comfort food, the psychological equivalent of the maternal breast. As a child, mine was peanut butter. As proof of the minimal effect that so-called maturity has on one’s basic needs, I have only progressed as far as peanut sauce. Mine is shamelessly adapted from Hugh Carpenter’s Pacific Flavors and takes fusion to new depths (or heights, if you’re in yogic headstand).


These are my ingredients:

user posted imagepeanuts
Chinese chili sauce
soya sauce
balsamic vinegar
sesame oil
hoi sin sauce
a few cherry tomatoes
fresh ginger
fresh coriander

Throw a handful of peanuts into a blender and roughly pulverize.
Add a generous dollop of each of the five bottled sauces—the proportion is entirely a personal decision.
Roughly chop a couple of garlic cloves and add.
Grate in a generous amount of fresh ginger.
Add lots of fresh coriander. (I keep it bunched up in a sealed plastic bag  in user posted imagethe freezer and slice off
what I need.)
Blend at high speed. If the mixture doesn’t circulate in the blender, add another cherry tomato or two.
Empty the mixture into a bowl, cover and microwave for a minute. It needn’t be cooked, only heated. For lunch most days I do a quick pressure-cooked vegetable stew or shredded stir fry and add the sauce on top, stirring it in.

I only make enough sauce for one meal—if I made it in larger quantities, I would come downstairs in the middle of the night and finish it off.

user posted imageFor grating, I use the indispensible Microplane. Originally invented as a woodworking took (hence its name), it consists of a series of tiny razor-sharp blades, all (except the third) pointing in the same direction

There are several degrees of coarseness. Reading from the right, the finest is perfect for nutmegs, working quickly and without clogging. The next is ideal for fresh ginger; peeling is unnecessary, as most of the skin folds back as you grate and is easily disposed of. The third, a two-way grater, works quickly and well with hard cheeses. And finally, there’s a thin slicer, which requires particular care.

In fact, any of them can easily add human flesh to your recipe. There’s a TV out-take of Rick Stein demonstrating their use and looking at the camera as he warns of the need for special care. Suddenly he yells and sticks his finger in his mouth.laugh.gif


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