When I was in high school, there was a teeny tiny (4"5 or shorter) ancient woman that attended my church. Her name was Norma. She was originally from China, but had married a Swiss gentleman ages ago and followed him back to Geneva, Switzerland. Norma was incredibly enthusiastic and energetic -- she would practically jump up and down with enthusiasm when greeting someone, and her face was enchantingly expressive. I had always found her endearing, but she progressed to "ridiculously cool" status when I learned that, before she retired, she had worked with the big Swiss grocery store chain (Migros -- a less pretentious version of Whole Foods that also sponsored cultural events, etc.) to produce a Chinese cookbook. Then, one Thanksgiving (2002?), Norma brought this dish to the church potluck, and we all fell in love. My Dad wouldn't let her leave until he had the recipe.
It's a very simple peanut sauce that takes 2 minutes to prepare, and requires only pantry staples. Kind of like Fried Rice, it goes great with any and all veggies. Perfect for the middle of the week when you can't be bothered to go to the grocery store. I've had this dish at the Thanksgiving Church potluck, at my 18th birthday party (it feeds masses of people!), at an ex-boyfriend's 21st birthday party (great for college students!), and whenever I'm caught staring at the fridge without inspiration. What with grad classes starting this past Wednesday, there was no way Do and I were going to cook anything elaborate mid-week, let along make it to the grocery store. Norma's peanut sauce it is!
On that note, given our drastic reduction in free time (I'm still dumbfounded at the quantity of reading that my Profs expect! And I thought college loads were bad.), Do and I are starting a new category: "30min or less." Should be pretty self-explanatory. Also, don't expect us to be posting more than a couple times a week. Really.
I haven't seen Norma since, oh, 2005 at least. I hope she's okay. When I was the college, the church emailed all current and past members for ideas for a community cookbook, and I sent them Norma's Peanut Sauce. They really, really liked it.
Here's to you, Norma.
Norma's Peanut Sauce
(enough for 1.5 lbs of pasta)
1 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup light soy sauce
1/2 cup hot bouillon
2 Tbs lemon juice or vinegar
2 Tbs honey or sugar
2 Tbs chopped ginger
2 Tbs chopped garlic
1 Tbs Sesame oil
1 Tbs cornstarch
1/2 tsp chili paste or sambal (or simply cayenne pepper if that's all you've got)
Mix everything in a saucepan and heat for two minutes.
Serving suggestions: Sauté a ton of veggies (corn, bell peppers, broccoli, toasted sesame seeds... I like chinese cabbage) and add to the sauce, and serve over pasta or potatoes.