In addition to dealing with the ups and downs of being Celiac, I am also allergic to peanuts (there are other things I’m allergic to, but those two are the worst offenders and the ones I have to avoid completely). I am extremely grateful that my peanut allergy was diagnosed long before I ever had an anaphylactic reaction. While the smell of peanuts makes me feel yucky, the worst I get upon accidental consumption is a bad case of indigestion.
I count myself among the lucky.
The only place I find myself really wishing peanuts weren’t so evil for me as at the Thai restaurants we like to frequent around town. Most Thai food is naturally gluten-free, and I find that I prefer the fresh flavors and lack of soy sauce over Chinese food. How can you not fall in love with a bowl of Pho with its cilantro, basil, chile, and lime? And the spring rolls! Mr. Kitchen Diva informs me that spring rolls are even better dipped in the peanut sauce….sigh…That left me with only one choice- make my own substitute.
Cashews seemed like the obvious choice, especially becuase they are so prevalent in Asian cooking. You could easily use ready made cashew butter for this, I didn’t have any on hand, and found it just as easy to grind my own cashews. In addition to using the sauce for dipping home made spring rolls, we discovered it tasted great on gently sauteed kale. I’m ready to schmear it on a piece of toast next!
Below you’ll find the recipe for the Thai Cashew Sauce, and a few basic instructions for making your own spring rolls. Spring rolls, like pizza and pasta, are a great canvas for whatever you like. We filled ours with rice noodles, fresh basil, and a shredded salad (recipe to come in the future) the Kitchen Divas in Training invented. While we call can use more practice in the act of rolling, the end result was delicious and we’ll be happy to attempt them again in the near future. In fact, the next time I go out for Thai food, I’ll be packing this along in a mini to-go container!
Remember, this month’s GF Baking Challenge is to tackle Le Macaron! Join me and feel free to post your comments or questions. Better yet- send me a photo of your baking experience and I’ll post it on the final month’s round-up!
Thai Cashew Sauce- makes about 3 cups
1 1/4 cups cashews (we used roasted & unsalted, but you could use any kind)
1 can of coconut milk (do NOT use lite coconut milk!)
1/2 cup water
4 tbs Thai red chile paste (we used Thai Kitchen- use more for more heat)
2 tbs rice wine vinegar
1 tbs fresh ginger (1 tsp ginger powder would also work)
juice from 1/4 of a lime
1/2 tsp salt (omit if you are using salted cashews)
3-10 drops of fish sauce
If you are grinding your own cashews: Place cashews in a food processor and grind. In order to get a smooth paste you may need to add a bit of oil. We used toasted sesame oil, but you could use grapeseed, canola, or another unflavored oil. I do not recommend using olive oil.
In a medium saucepan, place all of the ingredients- including the cashew paste. Stir over medium heat until well combined and slightly soupy. Mixture will firm up in the refrigerator. You can soften it by adding a bit more liquid, or rewarming. Will keep at least a week in the refrigerator.
For making Spring Rolls
Making spring rolls is easy. Before you assemble them, make sure you have all of your ingredients laid out and ready to go. You can fill spring rolls with pretty much anything you like, fresh vegetables, tropical fruits, tofu, meats..the possibilities are unlimited.
Spring rolls are made from rice paper, which is naturally gluten-free. You can find them in both small and large sizes in the asian section of your market, or at an asian specialty store.
Soften the rice paper round in a bit of warm water. We find a large dinner plate works perfectly for this. When the paper has fully softened, lift it up, gently shake to remove extra water and lay flat on your prep surface.
Place your ingredients in a mount slightly off of center. To wrap, fold the shortest end of the paper over the filling and pull tight. Next, fold over the sides so that the filling doesn’t fall out. Then roll tightly on itself. Et Voilá!