from one generation to the next
Last week at my Farmer’s Market there were huge bunches of field grown coriander for sale at a ridiculously cheap price. I needed coriander, but wondered how on earth could I use such an enormous quantity before it went slimy in the fridge. I knew I’d find a way so handed over my $2.
This coriander unlike the hydroponically grown product was vigorous, long stemmed, large leaved and intensely flavoured. I used lots of fresh leaves in the stuffing of the bánh xèo I made last week and I topped a Lucknow style chicken biryani with a large handful freshly chopped, but still I had over 1/2 bunch remaining. In a light bulb moment I thought of Coriander and Peanut paste. I dare not call it pesto as the flavours are purely Asian, but I was however inspired by pesto Genovese.
My Peanut and Coriander paste began with peanuts chopped in the food processor with a large knob of ginger and a whole red chilli. After I had added the coriander, the fun began. Recipe development is all about tasting, I love this part. The pesto needed salt so I added fish sauce, I squeezed a fresh lime and added the juice for a kick of acidity, kecap manis ( sweet Indonesian soy,) contributed umami, then a little brown sugar balanced out the flavour. I added peanut oil until I had a thick dolloping consistency.
Fresh, lively and aromatic is the only way to describe the flavour of the paste I made. I would be a fabulous dressing for rice noodles, be wonderful with charred pork and delicious with steamed chicken. I pan fried some meaty fillets of barramundi then topped them with a generous dollop of the peanut and coriander paste. Served it on a bed of steamed Asian greens, dinner was on the table in 15 minutes.
This fabulous paste is set to become a regular in my kitchen. With the top surface sealed with oil, it will keep for a couple of weeks. I’m planning on serving the remainder as a dip with carrot, celery and cucumber sticks.
Coriander and Peanut Paste
20g peeled root ginger, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, roughly chopped
100g roasted salted peanuts
2 cups tightly packed washed and dried coriander leaves
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon kecap manis
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon garlic oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup peanut oil
Put the peanuts, chilli and ginger into the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped.
Add the coriander and process until finely chopped.
Add the sauces, sugar, garlic oil and lime juice and process into a paste. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary.
With the motor running add the peanut oil and process until the mixture is emulsified.
Spoon into a lidded container, pour a little oil over the surface to seal the paste against oxidisation and store in the fridge. Makes 1/12 cups, 375g