Satay Peanut Sauce with Grilled Vegetables, Fried Tofu, and Toast
Satay Peanut Sauce
To make the sauce, warm the coconut milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a gentle boil. Simmer, stirring now and then, until it releases its sweet fragrance and thickens a bit, about 5 minutes. Add the curry paste and cook for 3 to 4 minutes longer, mashing and scraping to dissolve the paste and mix everything well. Add the vegetable stock and sugar and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add the peanuts or peanut butter and cook for 3 minutes more, stirring as needed to dissolve the peanut butter into the sauce. Remove from heat and season with the tamarind or citrus juice and salt, stirring to mix well. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons red curry paste
3/4 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
1/4 cup freshly ground salted, dry-roasted peanuts or peanut butter
2 tablespoons tamarind liquid or freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Vegetables and Tofu
6 japanese eggplants
3 red sweet peppers
20 small fresh button mushrooms
1/3 cup vegetable oil, plus additional oil for deep frying
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 slices white bread
8 ounces firm tofu
At this point, the sauce can be covered and refrigerated up to 2 days; reheat gently and thin with a little vegetable stock before serving.
To prepare the vegetables, trim the ends form the zucchini and Japanese eggplants and cut in half lengthwise. Stem and seed the sweet peppers and cut them into 2-inch squares. Trim the base of each mushroom stem but leave whole.
In a medium bowl, combine the 1/3 cup vegetable oil, curry powder, soy sauce, and salt and mix well. Add the zucchini, eggplants, sweet peppers, and mushrooms and toss to coat well. Set aside for 30 minutes. (They can also be covered and refrigerated as long as overnight, tossing now and then.)
When you are ready to cook the vegetables, prepare a very hot fire in a grill. Thread the sweet peppers and mushrooms on bamboo skewers and place them on the grill rack along with the zucchini and eggplant halves, cut side down. Cook until tender and nicely charred, turning often to cook them evenly, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter and let cool until warm or at room temperature, 5 minutes or longer.
Meanwhile, place the bread slices on the grill rack and toast them on both sides to a handsome, golden crunchy state. Remove from the grill and cut each twice on the diagonal into 4 triangles. Remove the crusts first if you want the most traditional look, and leave them on if you like crust as I do. Set aside near the cooling vegetables.
Meanwhile, in a skillet, pour in vegetable oil to a depth of several inches and place over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. While it heats, cut the tofu in half horizontally to form 2 blocks. Cut each block lengthwise into thirds and then crosswise in half. This will give you 12 thick rods of tofu. Blot them dry on a clean kitchen towel and set aside. Line a plate with paper towels and place near the stove along with a slotted spoon or long-handled Asian-style wire strainer.
When the oil is hot, 350 to 365 degrees F gently slide 3 rods of tofu into the oil and cook, turning once or twice to brown evenly, until crispy and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using the slotted spoon or wire strainer, remove from the oil, draining briefly over the pan, and transfer to the towel-lined plate to drain well. Continue cooking the remaining tofu in the same way.
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