Recipe: Spicy Sichuan Peanut Sauce

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Asian sesame oil
3 Tbsp. rice vinegar (not seasoned)
2 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic
2 Tbsp. grated peeled fresh gingerroot
1-1/2 tsp. Asian chili paste* or 1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes or to taste
1 Tbsp. hoisin sauce*, or to taste
1-1/2 to 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
3/4 cup water

*available at Asian markets, some specialty foods shops, and supermarkets

Instructions:

In a blender or food processor blend all ingredients with salt to taste until smooth. Transfer sauce to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Peanut sauce keeps, covered and chilled, 1 week.
To use peanut sauce:
Boil 1 pound Asian noodles or spaghetti until al dents and drain in a colander. Rinse noodles under cold water until cool and drain. Toss noodles with about 3/4 cup sauce and finely chopped scallion to taste.

Can be prepared in 45 minutes or less.