Friday, February 8, 2008

Spicy Szechwan Peanut Sauce

This recipe is adapted from a recipe of the same name in Barbara Tropp’s The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking, a wonderful cookbook that Christopher gave me many Christmases ago.

**Assemble Ingredients (6 June 2023)
This is a great cookbook except directions like "about 10 large cloves garlic" and "about 2/3 bunch fresh coriander leaves and upper stems" are not helpful. Sure, this kind of cooking, unlike baking is "to taste" but....  Anyway I started with ""  coriander and 2 T minced garlic but a visual at left (1 tightly packed cup corriander) of what I currently use.

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, mince (pulse so as not to pulverize)

10 cloves garlic (should = 2 T minced)

Approximately 2/3 bunch coriander leaves and upper stems (should = 3T minced and packed)**


½ c peanut butter
½ c + 1 T thin soy sauce
5 T sugar [I use 2 T]
½ t rice wine or sherry
1 –2 T hot chili oil [to taste]*

Process about one minute, until homogenized.. Store at least 1 hour at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. Note this sauce will keep several days when refrigerated in a covered container.


Per Serving

1/2 - 1 cooked chicken breast

Place on top of bed of:

1 baby bok choy, thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2/3 c bean sprouts
1/3 c cucumber, coarsely chopped

Top with Szechwan Peanut Sauce


Serves 4 - 6

This sauce is good tossed with whole wheat pasta, especially fusilli.

Cook according to package instructions:

16 ounces whole wheat fusilli, thin spaghetti, linguine or other pasta

Meanwhile sauté for 3-4 minutes or until scallions are tender:

1 ½ t olive oil
1-2 bunches of scallions, cut diagonally in 1-inch lengths

NOTE: When cooking scallions I often separate the white ends from the green and cook the white part longer (full 3-4 minutes) and the green less (1-2 minutes)

Drain the pasta, add scallions and:

1 large waxless cucumber, coarsely chopped

Toss with enough sauce to thoroughly coat the pasta, about ½ cup.

June 2013 VARIATIONS: I've started adding the scallions uncooked, also fresh shelled peas or snap peas cut on the diagonal. Also as in photo at left, sometimes poached chicken breast cut in small chunks.  Save a few scallions for garnish.

April 2014 VARIATION:  Saute ~ 4-6 ounces thinly sliced chicken and white ends of ~4 scallions in 1 t  chili oil and 1 t sesame seed oil (adjust ratio according to desired hotness).  Note:  to minimize chicken sticking to the wok, heat wok first, then add oil and heat, then add chicken.  When chicken is cooked through, add two small, thinly sliced heads of bok choy and green ends of scallions, cut diagonally into 3/4 inch pieces.  Cook, stirring constantly until bok choy is just barely wilted.

Meanwhile, cook 6 ounces whole wheat thin spaghetti until barely done.  Drain, toss with veggies in wok and add peanut sauce to taste.   (Serves 2-3)

January 2014 VARIATION: Sautee ~6 medium shrimp per person in a mixture of olive and sesame chili oil (choose your hotness!).  Add cooked shrimp to whole wheat fusilli that has been tossed with scallions and peanut sauce per instructions above.  Top (optional) with chopped hot and/or sweet peppers and cliantro.

* June 2017: All chili oil is not equal.  Some brands are much hotter than others; be sure if you change brands (or even open a new bottle) to go by taste not previously used measurements!

Reviewed 6/20/2017
Revised 6/9/2023 see *

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