Take a break from Ranch dressing with this delicious, Asian-inspired dip. It will make the veggies go down easier and help expand your kid’s palate.    

Fresh Salad with Dip
Credit: Sarah Culver

We all know that kids are more likely to eat fresh veggies if there’s a delicious dip around. This Southeast Asian-inspired sauce is easy to make and keeps well. Plus, it has all the flavors kids already love: sweet (coconut sugar), sour (tamarind or lime juice), and peanutty!

Chop up a couple of fresh veggies and/or fruit for a quick summer snack; or prepare a whole array for a no-fuss side at your next cook-out. And when you mix and match familiar veggies—say, cucumbers—with a newbie like jicama, you’ve got a winning way to introduce kids to new foods.

Fresh Salad with Sweet, Sour, Spicy Sauce


¼ cup roasted peanuts

½ cup coconut palm sugar or ⅓ cup dark brown sugar

6 Tbs. prepared tamarind juice or 4 Tbs. freshly squeezed lime juice

1 long, fresh red chili like Fresno, stemmed, seeded as desired, and sliced; or 1 to 2 tsp. sambal oelek (optional)

½ tsp. fine sea salt

For serving:

1½ cups ripe pineapple cubes

1 cup jicama, cut into 1-in cubes

½ cup quartered red radishes

1 mini seedless cucumber like Persian, cut into short spears

1 firm, tart apple like Granny Smith, cut into 12 slices and soaked in salted water to prevent browning

1 firm, underripe mango, cut into 1-in pieces


1. Blitz the peanuts in a small food processor until coarsely chopped, about 10 seconds. Reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish, then add the sugar, tamarind juice, chill and salt. Process until it is the consistency of caramel sauce. The sauce is supposed to be grainy, so don't over-process. Add water 1 teaspoon at a time if the sauce is too thick. Taste and add more salt or tamarind juice as needed (especially if substituting brown sugar and lime juice).

2. Spoon the sauce into a pretty bowl, garnish with the reserved peanuts, and serve with the cut vegetables and fruit on a platter. Alternately, toss sauce with fruit and vegetables and serve in a bowl.

Makes 4-6 servings

Farm to Table Asian Secrets book cover

, copyright 2017 Patricia Tanumihardja. Published by Tuttle. Photos by Sarah Culver.