Who doesn’t like the authentic peanut sauce made from scratch?
I am referring the umami-rich peanut sauce for satay.
This Asian peanut sauce is so versatile that besides for satay, can be used as the gravy for noodles, making Indonesian style salad (Gado-Gado) and even as the sauce for tacos and wraps.
The sauce is the result of the intermingling of the flavor from the Asian ingredients and augmented by the texture of crushed peanuts. It is a sure-fire recipe that will keep your tummy rumble.
In this post, I want to share with you how to prepare the peanut sauce from scratch. The best peanut sauce is always prepared from scratch, not from the store-bought peanut butter. And if you like to use it as the dipping sauce for the satay, here is the recipe for the Chicken Satay.
Note: Restaurants in Malaysia never serve peanut sauce made from peanut butter not only because of the high cost but principally they want to use fresh groundnuts to get the best result.
The main ingredients for the authentic satay sauce
Let’s take a look at some of the main ingredients for this easy peanut sauce before diving into the details.
Dry chili is the integral component of this peanut sauce recipe. You can also use fresh red chili if you like. The taste is slightly different from dry chili. We use fresh chili in our restaurant base on the feedback from our customers. I am using dry chili in this recipe which is spicier.
If you are living in Malaysian and Singapore, you can buy the ready-made dry chili paste from the market. It is called ‘chili boh’ which is the blended dry chili with water.
Here is how to do it:
- Soak the dry chili in hot water for at least ten minutes until they are hydrated and soft. Unhydrated dry chilis are challenging to blend until it forms a paste.
- Cut the dry chili into small sections.
- Remove the seeds or retain some of them for an extra hot peanut sauce. Blend together will other ingredients as indicated in the recipe.
Note: If you choose to use fresh chili, wash and remove the pith and the seeds for a less spicy sauce. Add the chili into the blender to process with the rest of the ingredients.
Palm sugar is derived from the palm tree. It is known as gula Jawa in Indonesia and gula Melaka in Malaysia, probably due to it is originated in the state of Melaka.
Palm sugar has a toffee-like caramelized flavor. If you do not have it, use brown sugar as the substitute. Palm sugar is sold as cylinder blocks. You need to shave the amount you need with a knife.
Galangal is a ubiquitous ingredient in Malaysian cuisine. It resembles closely to ginger but is unique in its own right, with a more intense flavor. It is also harder than ginger and has to blend longer to achieve a smooth texture while making the chili paste.
Although you can substitute it with the regular ginger, I strongly recommend to use it to get the authentic flavor.
Asam keping (also called asam gelugo, asam gelugur) is the sun-dried slices of the fruit of a giant rainforest tree (Garcinia atroviridis) native to Malaysia. It is regularly used in a variety of sauces and curries.
This dried fruit adds a unique sour note to the peanut sauce. It is extremely sour and a small piece goes a long way. Add it to the sauce while cooking and discard it after that.
An alternative to asam keping is tamarind pulp (asam jawa). It is from a different species of tree but with a similar sour taste. Soak one teaspoons of the tamarind pulp in warm water and use only juice extracted.
If both are unavailable, substitute with lime juice or just omit it.
Use real peanuts for satay sauce
The peanuts that I bought from the market may not be clean. I prefer to sieve it in case there are some small pebbles camouflage among the peanuts!
You can choose to remove the skin (the seed coat) of the peanuts. Although the skin does not affect much of the taste, discard the skin before crushing the peanuts is a good practice. The color of the final product is lighter and fresher.
Here are the steps:
- Toast the peanut in a pan over low heat, with a small amount of oil.
- Stir the peanuts constantly so that they are toasted evenly. Once they start to turn to a darker color and there are charred marks on the peanuts sporadically, remove from the pan. As an alternative, you can bake it in the oven to achieve the same effect.
- Remove the skin. The skin will be detached from the peanuts by rubbing them with two hands. You can do this by putting the peanuts in a colander on top of another container to hold the detached skin.
- Crush the peanuts with the food processor. The mixing bowl of the food processor is made with plastic which may not withstand the high heat of the peanuts.
- How fine you want to crush the peanuts depends on how chunky you want, but it should not crush until it becomes a smooth paste as it is good to have some textures.
Preparing the sauce
Once you have got all the ingredients ready, follow the steps below to finish up the cooking:
- Add the dry chili, garlic, onion, lemongrass, galangal, and oil into the food processor. Blend it to form a very smooth paste. It may take a few minutes as the galangal and dry chili are quite hard. Add some water to facilitate the blending if it is too dry.
- Once the chili paste is ready, pour it into a pan and saute it over low heat. This process will take a few minutes, or until all the water is evaporated. Once the color of the paste turn darker, and the oil begins to separate from the paste, add the peanuts.
- Add the crushed peanuts to the chili paste. Add some water, the asam keping, palm sugar, and salt and cook for a few minutes. The peanuts sauce will start to thicken, and you can stop when it reaches the consistency of your choice.
Other common usages of the peanut sauce.
Apart from the primary use as the dipping sauce for satay, you can use it for a variety of cuisines. The following are some of my suggestions.
- Satay bee hoon 沙嗲米粉, a delicious rice vermicelli dish. The dish is prepared with ingredients like cuttlefish, prawns, fried tofu and kangkong (water spinach) inundated in peanut sauce.
- Gado-gado, an Indonesian style salad with a mix of fried tofu, long beans, bean sprouts, cabbage and eggs and dressed with plenty of peanut sauce instead of the regular mayonnaise.
- Satay wrap, which is sold in our cafe. It is a mix of peanut sauce, chicken satay, lettuce and cucumber wrapped in tortilla skin.
You can keep the peanut sauce in the refrigerator up to five days, or frozen for up to three months.
When you want to serve, defrost at room temperature. (or speed up with the microwave). Add some water and bring it to a boil and reduce to the desired consistency.
- Soak the dry chili in hot water for at least ten minutes until they are hydrated and soft. Drained. Cut the dry chili into small sections.
- Toast the peanut in a pan over low heat, with a small amount of oil. Stir the peanuts constantly. Once they start to turn to a darker color and there are charred marks on the peanuts sporadically, remove from the pan. Remove the skin by rubbing them with two hands.
- Crush the peanuts with the food processor. Removed.
- Add the dry chili, garlic, onion, lemongrass, galangal, and oil into the food processor. Blend it to form a very smooth paste.
- Pour the chili paste into a pan and saute it over low heat. until the oil begins to separate from the paste,.
- Add the crushed peanuts to the chili paste. Add some water, the asam keping, palm sugar, and salt and cook until it reaches the consistency of your choice.
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- Hamilton Beach 70725A 12-Cup Stack & Snap Food Processor and Vegetable Chopper Black
- Colander Set - 2 Collapsible Colanders (Strainers) Set By Comfify - Includes 2 Folding Strainers Sizes 8" - 2 Quart and 9.5" - 3 Quart Red and Grey
- Tamicon Tamarind Paste
- Navitas Organics Coconut Palm Sugar, 16 oz. Bag — Organic, Non-GMO, Gluten-Free, Sustainable
- Soeos Szechuan Dried Chili，Dry Szechuan Pepper, Dry Chile Peppers, Sichuan Pepper, Dried Red Chilies, 4oz, (Very Mild Spicy)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 295 Total Fat: 24g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 19g Cholesterol: 1mg Sodium: 648mg Carbohydrates: 16g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 9g Protein: 7g