Jean-Georges Vongericten is one of my favourite chefs. His delightfully creative ways with Thai ingredients and French style make for exciting bursting flavours. I first ate at his restaurant, now closed, Vong in Knightsbridge, London. I often dined at this lovely location for several years. Then I was fortunate enough to dine at several of his other restaurants in New York City, Hong Kong, and Chicago.
This is my intrepretation of one of his terrific appetizers-rice crackers/cakes with spicy peanut curry sauce (kao dtang nar dtang).
makes 3 cups
1-3/4 cups dry roasted unsalted peanuts
1 tab peanut oil
1 - 2 tsp red curry paste to taste
1 tab date palm sugar
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
2 tabs Thai soy sauce
1 tab fish sauce (nam pla)
1 tab fresh lime juice
Pulse the peanuts in a food processor just until barely crushed or crush in a mortar with the pestle. You do not want peanut butter.
Heat saucepan over medium high heat, add oil and heat. Add the curry paste and stir fry 30 seconds.
Whisk in the sugar and coconut milk and cook over medium-low heat for 3-5 minutes, whisking, until smooth. Do not boil.
Add the crushed peanuts. Whisk.
Add soy sauce and lime juice. Whisk.
Taste and adjust taste with additional sugar, chile, soy or lime as necessary to balance.
Keep the sauce warm until you're ready for it.
This sauce will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days, but reheat prior to serving.
Serve warm with rice crackers/cakes or blanched vegetables.
Rice crackers need to be fried in hot oil or buy the ready to serve rice cakes from Taiwan. Packages can be found in Asian markets, Chinese Rice Crackers (often labeled as Instant Sizzling Rice).
You can make your own rice crackers from dried left over Jasmine and sticky rice.
A variation: Fry 4 ounces lean minced pork breaking up until very crumbly. Blend this ground fried minced pork with the peanut sauce just before serving.
Another variation is to add 3 ounces of minced prawns and and 2 ounces of minced pork.