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Cooking with peanut butter

I frequently see Asian recipes that call for peanut butter. We only buy natural peanut butter (just peanuts and salt). Can this be used or do I need a peanut butter like skippys or jiff?

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  1. I use regular peanut butter when I make West African Peanut Stew. The main difference I see is sugar content. You can adjust to taste later.

    13 Replies
    1. re: Chinon00

      Chinon, I'm hinting here, .........
      recipe please..

      1. re: iL Divo

        There are many recipes on the net all basically the same. It's so good and nutritionally dense. You can serve it over rice.

        1. re: iL Divo

          This forgiving recipe, which has been suitably modified for sharing purposes uses natural peanut butter, but ordinary works too.

          West African Groundnut (Peanut) Stew/Nketia Fla (en-KEH-tee-ah flaw)

          1-1/2 to 2 lbs. skinned chicken parts (thighs or leg quarters split into thighs and drumsticks; you can use skinless thighs as well, but not breasts. Can also use 1-1/2 lbs. chuck or round steak)
          1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped
          1-2 cloves garlic, minced
          Dried red peppers (crushed) or cayenne pepper (to taste)
          1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
          1 can stewed tomatoes (plain) or diced tomatoes
          1 teaspoon salt
          2 cups water
          1 plantain, chopped
          1 sweet potato, chopped
          ¾ to 1 cup natural peanut butter
          2 tablespoons vegetable oil

          In 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat, brown chicken or beef (need not be completely cooked through). Remove when done. In same pot, add 1 tablespoon oil and onions over medium heat. Cook until soft. Add garlic and cook for another minute or two, being careful not to let garlic burn.

          Add tomatoes, ginger, pepper, and salt. Sauté for a couple of minutes. Add water and reserved meat. Turn heat up to high and add plantain and sweet potato. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer (covered) for 30-40 minutes, until meat is tender. Remove about ¼ to ½ cup of stew liquid and mix it with peanut butter in a bowl. Stir peanut butter mixture back into stew. Cover and simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring frequently. If needed, add more water to thin stew. Season to taste with more salt and red pepper. Serve over rice. It actually tastes better the next day. Makes 4-6 servings.

          1. re: Joebob

            nothing there I 'don't' like, thank you so much.

            1. re: iL Divo

              My husband adores this soup, mine is vegetarian though, no meats. Just to pass on a trick I picked up here, and please don't think I always use prepared ingredients ;-), but for the tomato I use one can of Rotel for spiciness, and one can of condensed Campbells tomato soup for creaminess. And I use Peter Pan for the peanut part.

              I do like the idea of plantain (or maybe yucca?) though.

              1. re: coll

                good idea coll, always have both on hand. the CampTOMATO I have though is Harvest, more orange than red should be fine.

                1. re: iL Divo

                  It's the consistency as much as anything, a great idea.

            2. re: iL Divo

              I make this veg version with lentils, i ususally up the pb to 1/3 cup:
              http://food52.com/recipes/19854-yam-a...

              1. re: Ttrockwood

                now see I love lentils and this would suit me for a solid week. oh I shouldn't admit that right?

                1. re: iL Divo

                  Red lentils and kale, adjusting as we speak.

                  1. re: iL Divo

                    I always stash a few portions in the freezer when i make this and then have some wonderful "fast food" for another night...

                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                      I love the garnish too, I wouldn't bother for just us but next time I make it for company will do.

            3. well-stirred natural peanut butter does just fine, have been using it successfully for years.

              1. It's fine, not sure why it would make a difference but I'd use what you have.

                1. I've made some Thai-influenced thing that uses fried chilis, garlic, onion, ginger, a hefty amount of Thai basil, natural peanut butter, and a glug of fish sauce several times. Natural works fine.

                  1. I've always used all natural peanut butter for everything- the only difference i can think of is the texture, jiffy might make a slightly smoother dip but the flavor of natural is so much better.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                      So true! I had a bit of a late night pb moment on Sunday. I ran out of my favorite natural brand and the moment was so strong I dug into the jar of jiffy I keep around for mice (they prefer sugar in their peanut butter). It was awful! The moment ended.

                      1. re: Ttrockwood

                        Ttrockwood: fwiw, here's a shameless plug

                        the brand of natural peanut butter that i find to have the best flavor is Santa Cruz DARK ROASTED organic peanut butter.

                        they sell both DARK ROASTED and a light roasted variety.
                        the light roasted tastes like many other brands of natural peanut butter. the DARK ROASTED is, imho, far superior.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          Oooh, yes! I love that one from santa cruz!! I buy that one often, although lately i'm still having an almond butter phase.... The maranatha almond butter actually, i love how drippy it is.....(although my cupboard also has nutzzo, raw pecan butter, coconut butter, and cashew butter....)

                      2. Definitely natural is fine. Better, in fact, than that nasty sugar laced stuff.

                        1. You can use either. The sugar in commercial peanut butter is actually desirable in some Asian recipes which strive for a balance of salt, sweet and spice. With natural peanut butter, you can always adjust to your own taste.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: JungMann

                            My 'secret' ingredient when I make chili is to add about a tsp of peanut butter depending on the amount of chili.
                            It tends to 'soften' the numerous flavors so none come forward too much but none are hidden either. If you know what I mean.

                            1. re: Puffin3

                              ................................I'm whispering..........
                              I love secrets like that................ :)

                            2. re: JungMann

                              So true. Usually it's palm sugar, or light C & H will do in a pinch.

                            3. "do I need a peanut butter like skippys or jiff?"
                              I don't know.
                              the kid makes the best Asian chicken in peanut sauce with noodles I've ever had. I know he used the jarred kind, be it Skippy or Jif or ?
                              I have natural that I get out of the machine at WinCo in their bulk section. they have 4 nut butters there all in self serve machines. to me, it probably doesn't have the right consistency but not sure.

                              1. Those dishes were originally conceived starting from whole peanuts, so it shouldn't be a problem.

                                The main concern is probably texture. For a lot of those dishes, I'm guessing you want more of a chunky-style peanut butter rather than creamy.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: FoodPopulist

                                  P'shaw.

                                  Asians never started cooking until the invention of Skippy's Peanut Butter.

                                2. I use mostly natural peanut butter for Asian dishes. And substitute honey when sugar is called for.

                                  1. I only buy natural too and use it all the time in recipes including cookies without issue.