Friday, January 18, 2013

Prune-Err-Plum Sauce

I cleaned up my fridge this evening and I had to throw out a bunch of slimy asparagus. Tossing uneaten food fills me with guilt. As a penance, I decided to do something with a very odd item that has been hanging around my fridge: Prune juice.

Now, now, now, before you cast aspersions on my gastrointestinal health, I want you to know that I originally bought this juice for a healthy muffin recipe (read: hockey pucks). What the heck does one do with prune juice? I didn't feel like baking tonight, so using it as a natural sweetener in muffins and breads was out. I started trawling the usual internet suspects like I briefly considered something Moroccan. Perhaps, I pondered, I could cook some couscous in the juice, add some chickpeas, a little cumin, and a dash of cinnamon  But, then I realized that what I thought was couscous in my cupboard was actually quinoa. Plus, I didn't have any fresh mint.

Then, instead of searching "prune," I typed in "plum" and found some recipes for Asian-style plum sauce. Now, I have never had plum sauce before. Most "Asian" sauces that you can get in restaurants around my area are brown and vaguely menacing. However, I liked the look of the ingredients and I decided to do my own adaptation with the items that I had readily available in my fridge and pantry. Most of these recipes called for actual plums or whole prunes, but using prune juice instead worked out fine.

I looked at a couple different recipes to get a general idea of the flavors that are supposed to stand out. I also considered my current food cravings. I have a cold, so I really wanted something spicy and bold. As I sometimes say, I wanted some food that would punch me in the face. And this sauce does, in a good way.


1/2 tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. of non-packed dark brown sugar (a very light 1/4 c.)
4 c. prune juice (the kind that only had prunes and water in it-they usually keep it on the bottom shelf at the grocery store so the little old ladies can reach it easily)
1/4-1/2 tsp. cinammon
1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 inch piece of raw ginger, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tbs. tamari (or soy sauce, if you wish)
1 tbs. (or more) Sriracha sauce (you could sub in cayenne pepper)

First, I caramelized the chopped onions in a saucepan until they were very brown. I found that they were getting too dry (maybe I had the heat on too high), so I added a little prune juice for the last 5 minutes or so. Then, I threw in the garlic and ginger and gave it a stir. After that, I added the apple cider vinegar to deglaze the pan. Finally, in went the rest of the ingredients. I let the whole thing cook down until it was very reduced (under 1 cup). I think I reduced mine a tad too much. You want it to be thick, but not look too syrupy. After I let the whole thing cool for a bit, I threw it in the blender to turn it into a nice smooth sauce. I poured the concoction in a small sterilized (boiled) glass jar and will be storing the sauce in the fridge.

I think that this would be really good on some tofu and greens. It would also make a nice dipping sauce.

After I had decanted my sauce, I still had some residue in the saucepan. It was suddenly time for dinner (8:30, where did the time go?), so I decided to make something of that too. I added some water to thin out the quite solidified remnants, boiled some brown basmati rice (I cook mine like pasta), and threw in some arugula at the end. I did not use the tender baby arugula that you get at the store for the price of your first born. My mom has a hoop house and a bumper crop of arugula that is slightly past ideal. This older, more experienced arugula is still good sauteed or wilted. The bite of the arugula paired very nicely with the sweetness of the sauce. Great success.

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