When is comes to dining out, I have come to the conclusion that my family is in a rut. Once a week, we quickly rule out restaurant options based upon prior experience: too loud, too expensive, food is so-so, etc. until once again we find ourselves sharing Chicken Caesar Salad, lasagna and pizza at Sauce and then walking 15 paces next door to share a medium gelato at Frost. In the final analysis, we have a lovely time, but it does become a bit redundant week after week.
Occasionally, my daughter will have a sleep-over at a friend's house, leaving Jay and me with a welcome date night. Funny thing is that we usually end up a P.F. Chang's - double rut! We like to dine sitting at the bar, invariably chatting with the bartenders, moving from drinks to an appetizer and then sharing an entree or two. Without fail, I always order the Hot and Sour Soup and The Salt and Pepper Prawns with Special Mustard Sauce. I swear I could drink that mustard sauce by the gallon if I ever had the opportunity.
On one of Linda's visits, we found ourselves at P.F. Chang's for lunch. Between the two of us, I thought we had cajoled the waiter into giving us the recipe. Mr. Helpful returned to the table with recipe in hand, but he would only give us the ingredients, in order of appearance, and not the measurements. On the back of the receipt, I jotted down: soy, mustard, rice vinegar, lime juice, yellow onion, chili, sugar. At least it was something to go on.
On my next trip, I asked the bartender for a take home sauce. With my sample for comparison, I got to work in the kitchen mixing and tasting until I was able to approximate the recipe. It's not identical, but it is very close. I used two of Barbara Tropp's mustard sauce recipes from China Moon Cookbook (Workman Publishing 1992) as a springboard for this recipe along with the ingredient teaser list from the waiter. Good thing I'm using my powers for good instead of evil.
I love dunking shrimp with the sauce, or drizzling over crabcakes. It's mighty fine with eggrolls too. I use my own little dish so I can double-dip (Mama raised me right). Now I can make the sauce by the gallon and guzzle it too.
Special Mustard Sauce
The pickled ginger juice called for in the recipe is an infusion of unseasoned rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, distilled white vinegar, granulated sugar, salt and fresh ginger. As an alternative you could use a combination of the vinegars and add a touch more sugar. If you use a blender, you could add a teaspoon or two of minced ginger. Your best bet is to make the Pickled Ginger recipe.
I have always wanted to try Black Soy Sauce in the recipe in lieu of the regular soy or Tamari, but have not as of yet. The exchange would give the sauce a little more body. Check-out my Celebrating Chinese New Year post for explanation of unusual ingredients.
1/4 cup plus 2 tsps Dijon mustard
1/2 cup juice from Pickled Ginger recipe
1/4 cup vegetable or peanut oil
1/4 cup Kadoya sesame oil or Ma-La oil
3 Tbsps soy sauce or Tamari
3 Tbsps granulated sugar
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp Sambal Oelek
1. Either whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl, or mix all the ingredients in a blender while drizzling the oil through the feed tube until emulsified. I like to make this sauce at least a few hours ahead of serving, or a day in advance, to let the flavors meld. Keep refrigerated.