12/7/23 O&A NYC SUNDAY BRUNCH: West African Peanut Sauce with Udon Noodles

Chef JJ Johnson of Fieldtrip in New York City is on a mission to expand the definition of the world’s “mother sauces” to include the West African peanut sauce.

Chef JJ explains how this “Mother Africa sauce” became an impactful result of the African diaspora and how cooking in Ghana encouraged him to see food through the West African lens. In this recipe, JJ combines this sauce, made with carrots, tomatoes, celery, garlic, cumin, and unsweetened peanut butter, with udon noodles as a nod to the co-mingling of Japanese and West African populations that exist in Brazil via diaspora. 

West African Peanut Sauce with Udon Noodles


for the Mother Africa peanut sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ white onion, diced
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 plum tomato, chopped
1 rib celery, diced
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 bird’s eye chile, seeded and minced
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup unsweetened, creamy peanut butter
4 cups|946 ml vegetable stock

for the noodles:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup julienned carrot
½ cup thinly sliced onion
2 cups|473 ml Mother Africa Peanut Sauce, warmed
kosher salt
1 pound|454 grams udon noodles
1 cup shelled edamame, boiled in salted water for 5 minutes
½ cup cilantro leaves
½ cup Thai basil leaves


  1. Make the Mother Africa peanut sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add the cumin seeds and fry for 1 minute, stirring constantly, until the cumin is aromatic and a few shades darker. Add the onion, carrot, tomato, celery, cilantro, garlic, lemon juice, salt, chile, and bay leaf, stirring to coat the vegetables in the toasted cumin oil. Sauté until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Once the tomato paste is incorporated, add the peanut butter, working it into the vegetables with a little stock, if needed. Cook until the oil separates from the peanut butter, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the vegetable stock and stir, making sure to bring up all of the tomato paste and peanut butter from the bottom of the pot so it is well blended. Increase the heat to medium-high to bring the sauce to a simmer. Cook, stirring, for 45 minutes.
  4. Remove the bay leaf. Using an immersion blender, puree the sauce until smooth. Season with salt to taste.
  5. Make the noodles: Heat the oil in a wok wok over medium. Stir fry the carrot and onion for 1 minute. Add the Mother Africa sauce and stir to coat.
  6. In an 8-quart pot, bring water to a boil, season liberally with salt, and cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and add the noodles directly to the peanut sauce mixture, tossing to coat. Plate the noodles and top with edamame, cilantro, and thai basil leaves.

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