When you think about it, processed peanut butter is gross. In addition to the added sugar and chemicals, it's also quite unsanitary. A former colleague of mine who used to work in a food factory wouldn't eat peanut butter because there was actually a limit to the amount of RAT FECES that could be present in a final batch. It was in the parts per million, but it still gives me pause when I'm craving it. Sometimes I satiate the urge with a good organic brand, but a jar of the good stuff in Japan will set you back about $12 US.
So, when craving a good peanut sauce, I figured out a way to make it using a ubiquitous local ingredient: the sesame seed. It's probably my favorite ingredient because it's so versatile: it can be sprinkled, crushed, or ground into a paste. For this recipe, I used Neri-goma, which is liquidized sesame seeds and is somewhat similar to Tahini. It's available in easy-to-use tubes in white or black.
The black is great if you want to make a beautiful goma pudding like this one:
I like neri-goma because there's only one ingredient listed: sesame seeds.
3 Tablespoons Neri-goma (white)
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon brown sugar or Tenzai (beet) sugar
1 clove of garlic, grated
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
a pinch of red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon of water
Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. It makes a really creamy, delicious sauce that can be added to a stir-fry at the end. You can also put it on noodles, as a dipping sauce...the possibilities are endless!