We haven’t had a frost yet, but it won’t be long, and the basil, what is left of it, is looking pretty patchy these days. It is time to use it up before it succumbs to the cold. I’ve had this recipe kicking around for a while, and thought I’d give it a try because I like peanut sauces of various sorts, and this one calling for fresh basil leaves sounded very tasty and it is.
When I reflect on my years in the kitchen, now close to fifty of them, in light of the ingredients in this recipe and many others I use frequently, I am struck by how much my pantry has changed. Peanut butter has been with me all my life. I added fresh garlic in my twenties after I left home, and now grow a great deal of it. Soy sauce, but only in tiny bottles for sprinkling, gave way to tamari about thirty years ago, purchase in larger quantities from bulk containers at a coop. Since about five years ago, I’ve kept Thai fish sauce on hand.
I added red pepper sometime in my thirties, and bought limes only occasionally. I certainly never kept coconut milk in the pantry until just the past ten years or so.
Fresh ginger root is still a sometimes thing even though my old Moosewood cookbook recipes call for it pretty frequently. I buy a section from time to time, but I don’t cook with it regularly enough that I can use it up before it withers or molds. And I keep forgetting that I could put a chunk in the freezer to pull out as needed. Maybe if I lived on the mainland instead of an island, I would run out and pick up some whenever a recipe called for it, but I always have dried ginger, so sure enough, when I gave this recipe a try, that’s what I used.
I can’t remember when I discovered basil, but I’ve grown it now for about thirty-five years. I know I never had pesto until my early thirties, but even then, I would never have imagined that I would ever want to combine it with peanut butter.
We liked this marinade on chicken, but it would be dandy on pork, too, maybe even beef. You can skewer chunks of meat to grill, or grill or sauté strips of it after tossing them in the mixture. Reserve some sauce for dipping or dripping.
- 24 fresh basil leaves
- ½ cup chunky peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, tamari, or fish sauce
- ⅔ cup coconut milk
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1-inch peeled ginger root or 2 teaspoons dried ginger
- ½ teaspoon dried red pepper, or less to taste
- Juice of 1 lime
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 pound of chicken or pork, cut into strips or chunks for skewering
- Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor and puree until it is a smooth paste.
- Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Set aside about a half cup for dipping sauce
- Toss the meat in the mixture then grill or sauté it.
- Serve with additional sauce on the side.