I know better than to apply logic to the process of feeding kids, but there I was doing exactly that a few weeks ago when I spied the perfect recipe for “peanut butter sauce” (aka satay, tahini, sesame sauce, etc.) by my friend and mother-of-two Melissa Roberts. The logic went as follows:
If Peanut Butter = Surefire Consumption, and Noodles = Surefire Consumption, therefore Peanut Butter + Noodles = Mom Twice as Sure About Surefire Consumption
Jenny! Jenny! Jenny! How long have I been in this parenting business? Long enough to know that the surer you are about something, the greater the likelihood of failure.
I think my six-year-old, sensing my peanut butter-fueled swagger, figured out that she could really twist the knife if she rejected the sesame noodles (which, by the way, were delicious). And so I never really had a chance. Here’s what really kills me: She orders the dish at Chinese restaurants as a matter of course and this homemade version was infinitely better. Which she would have found out had she deigned to take a bite. My only consolation was that I was able to use the sauce to replicate an appetizer which I used to order at my favorite midtown sushi restaurant (RIP Expense Account)…a steamed spinach with sesame paste, also known as Goma Ae. My other daughter likes both peanut butter and spinach but, well, you can probably guess how that one turned out.
Peanut Butter Sauce Which is Truly Truly Divine in Spite of What I Just Wrote
Melissa says it’s crucial to use smooth peanut butter like Skippy or Jif, but I used all-natural and it turned out fine.
1 small garlic clove
1 (1-inch) piece fresh peeled ginger
½ cup smooth peanut butter (not all-natural)
2/3 cup warm water
1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoon red wine or cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
½ to 1 teaspoon red chile flakes (to taste)
peanuts, chopped (optional)
With motor running, drop garlic and ginger in the bowl of a food processor until finely chopped. Add peanut butter, water, soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, sugar, and chile flakes and process until smooth.
For peanut butter spinach:
Steam or saute fresh spinach leaves as you normally would. Scoop into small bowls and chop with kitchen scissors. Toss with a few spoonfuls of peanut butter sauce.
For sesame noodles:
Toss with a pound of udon noodles and top with any combination of chopped peanuts, sliced sugar snap peas, chopped cucumbers, or shredded chicken. Serve without betraying a shred of confidence.