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Fried Wontons with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Peanut sauce is one of those dishes that has become very popular over the last few years. It is often served with chicken, beef, or pork satay, a dish consisting of thin slices of marinated meat that is skewered, quickly grilled, then served with a small bowl of peanut sauce for dipping. According to most sources I have read, peanut sauce originated in Indonesia as a dipping sauce for their famous Indonesian satays, but is now an ingredient in other popular Indonesian dishes. The sauce has been adopted in Thailand and Vietnam and it is served in Thai and Vietnamese restaurants around the world. In Amsterdam, Indonesian restaurants are everywhere and offer what they call a “rijsttafel” or Indonesian Rice Table, which consists of about 20 small dishes, several of which are served in or with a flavorful peanut sauce. If you’re visiting Amsterdam, take time to enjoy a rijsttafel; it will be one of your most memorable and delicious meals.

Although I’m not sure this quick and easy appetizer is an authentic Thai or Indonesian dish, it certainly fits into the “Quick Cooking” category. The wontons can be fried a day or two ahead, then re-warmed in a 350° oven just before setting them out on a large platter with the warm peanut dipping sauce.

In a world where we are served potato chips with pedestrian dips more often than we care to remember, this delicious and easy appetizer will prove to be a welcome change!

1 package wonton wrappers, cut in half diagonally
Oil for deep frying

Heat the oil to 375°. Drop several wonton wrappers into the hot oil and fry until lightly browned. Remove to paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining wonton wrappers.

Peanut Dipping Sauce:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 tablespoon red curry paste
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemongrass stalks
1 tablespoon palm sugar, or brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 14 oz. can unsweetened coconut milk

Heat the oil in a small saucepan, add the curry paste, and fry for 1 minute. Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. This sauce may be prepared up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated. Re-warm over low heat, stirring often. Serve warm.

Ingredient Note: Finely chopped lemon grass can be found in the freezer section of most Asian markets.

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