Peanut Sauce (Satay Sauce)

I love peanut sauce and use it on meat (Satay), on salads (Gado Gado), and even in sandwiches. I’ve been making it for years, but never quite got the effect I found in authentic Thai, Malaysian or Indonesian restaurants. So I studied several of my south-east Asian cook books and came up with this amalgam … and it hits the spot. The secret is to embrace flavour. . .

Peanut Sauce (Satay Sauce)

Steven Thomas
Embrace flavour.


Ingredients for spice paste

  • 1 small onion or 2-6 shallots, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lemon grass finely chopped (about 2 stalks, white part only)
  • 1 teaspoon Sambal Oleg or chilli powder or 3 dried red chillies, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander or 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander and 2 chopped coriander roots
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons galangal chopped (about 1.5 cm of galangal root)
  • 1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste balacan
  • A little oil

Other ingredients

  • 1 - 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 1/2 water or 400 ml can of coconut milk for a richer effect - not that it needs it
  • 150 grams unsweetened crunchy peanut butter or ground roasted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoon tamarind juice 1 or lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • Blend the spice paste (in a blender or mortar) including enough oil to moisten.
  • Heat the oil
  • Stir fry the spice paste until it turns a pale pinky brown and fragrant (5 min)
  • Add water, peanut butter, sugar, tamarind juice, salt
  • Stir briskly to mix in the peanuts
  • Bring to the boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer until it darkens (20-30 min), stirring occasionally.
  • Adjust texture - simmer to thicken; add water to thin


(1) for 1/3 cup of tamarind juice, soak 1 teaspoon pulp with 1/3 cup of hot water for 5 min, mash, and strain

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