There are times when a sauce makes a dish. This is one of those times. This satay sauce hits all the right notes. It begins with ginger and garlic sautéed in peanut oil. There's coconut milk for a sweet flavor to balance out the salty peanut butter. Tamari, red Thai curry paste, and lime juice are at play too. It's worthy of spoon licking. What this lead photo doesn't show you is the ridiculous amount of sauce that actually covered my plate. You're only seeing the photo shoot version. This delicate drizzle is not an accurate representation of what I consumed after putting down the camera. I covered every angle, dripping the plate in a heavy flood of peanut satay sauce. And lucky for you, this recipe will yield plenty of sauce because believe me, you won't want to skimp on it. Heavy handedness is encouraged.
Inspiration for this sauce came from a lunch Donny and I recently had on our way to visit friends at their farm (where I rode a horse for the first time!) Our friend Tricia guided us, and we walked very slowly, but I'm still counting it. The restaurant we stopped in had a tempeh dish similar to what you see here. I decided I'd rework it at home, and it turned even better than the restaurant version I remember. I don't know how authentic it is, but I think it's a home run. The most important factor in a peanut sauce for me is one that isn't overly thick. If you've ever had a bad Pad Thai experience, you know what I'm talking about. No one wants something that sticks to the roof of his or her mouth. That sort of thing is best reserved for dogs. While this sauce is thick and rich, it isn't overly so. The same can be said about the peanut flavor. It's prominent without being overwhelming.
For those unfamiliar with tempeh, it's made from slightly fermented soybeans. It's high in protein and contains probiotics, essential to our health and immune function. While it may be new around these parts, tempeh originated in Indonesia and has been around for hundreds of years. When you buy tempeh, it comes packed in a firm rectangular shape which can then be cut into small pieces, or crumbled and used as a meat substitute. Like I mentioned, frying is usually my method of choice. I like to get a nice crunchy golden exterior on each side. This version was served with brown rice and steamed broccoli, but any grains and veggies will make a complete meal. Whatever you serve on the side, it will likely benefit from a few extra scoops of sauce. It can't hurt. And go ahead and lick the spoon while you're at it. I won't tell.
~Tempeh with Peanut Satay Sauce Recipe~
8 ounces tempeh
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp peanut oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp minced ginger
1/4 cup smooth, organic peanut butter
1/2 cup canned coconut milk (full fat)
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp red thai curry paste
1 tbsp tamari
juice of 1/2 lime
Cut tempeh into 3/4" pieces. Add olive oil to a large saute or cast iron pan over medium heat. Fry tempeh pieces for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until crispy and golden.
While the tempeh is cooking, heat peanut oil over medium heat in a small saute pan. Saute garlic and ginger for about a minute or two, taking care not to burn the garlic. Reduce the heat to low and add in peanut butter and coconut milk, stirring to combine. Take off the heat. Add in water to thin out the sauce, continuing to stir until incorporated. Stir in red thai curry paste, tamari, and lime juice. Serve sauce warm over tempeh. Sauce will yield about 3/4 cup. Serves 2.