By Barbara Beltrami
Ah, consider the lowly peanut relegated in most culinary estimations to its more popular descendant, peanut butter. True, you seldom see it on a restaurant menu or even in a cookbook. In western cultures it hardly bears mentioning unless you’re talking about something to munch with your martini. In eastern cultures, however, the peanut, also called the ground nut, plays a larger role in native cuisine.
The recipes below will give you a taste (pun intended) of how the peanut figures into both the western and eastern food cultures and exhibit its versatility according to traditional preferences.
Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce
YIELD: Makes 4 servings
For the marinade:
½ cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons fresh minced garlic
2 level teaspoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
²⁄₃ pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch strips
For the peanut sauce:
1 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon curry powder
½ cup peanut butter
²⁄₃ cup chicken broth
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
For the marinade: Stir together the first six ingredients. In a medium bowl, toss with chicken, cover and refrigerate for two hours. If using wooden skewers, soak in hot water until ready to use.
For the sauce: In a small-medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, combine coconut milk, curry powder, peanut butter, chicken broth and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes until heated through. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice, soy sauce, cayenne pepper. Add salt to taste (You probably won’t need much). Set aside to keep warm.
Meanwhile heat grill to medium high, remove skewers from water and wipe dry, then thread marinated chicken onto them. Grill 5 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove to platter and ladle warm peanut sauce over them. Serve with rice and vegetable slaw.
Peanut, Carrot and Mango Salad
YIELD: Makes 4 servings
2 cups grated carrots
½ cup chopped roasted salted peanuts
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1-2 teaspoons sugar
One green chile pepper, seeded and diced
¼ cup red or yellow bell pepper, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
Salt, to taste
One mango, peeled and diced
DIRECTIONS: In a medium bowl, combine the carrots and peanuts. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, sugar, chile pepper, bell pepper and cilantro. Combine with peanut and carrot mixture. Add salt and mix again. Fold in mango. Serve immediately with chicken or lamb.
YIELD: Makes one pound
Butter for greasing pan
2 cups sugar
2 cups roasted salted peanuts
DIRECTIONS: Grease low-rimmed baking sheet. In a heavy skillet combine sugar with 2 tablespoons water. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture boils. Steadily, continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture turns golden (it happens pretty quickly!). Stir in peanuts and immediately pour and spread mixture onto greased baking sheet. Allow to cool half an hour, until hard. Then break into uneven, asymmetrical pieces before serving with coffee or tea.