Unveiling the secrets to creating authentic Singapore and Malaysian-style Satay Peanut Sauce. This recipe will yield a rich and nutty, better-than-hawker satay sauce… no peanut butter allowed!
One of the most iconic condiments in Southeast Asian cuisine is this: the rich and nutty, aromatic Satay Peanut Sauce (kuah kacang). Satays are delicious, but it’s simply not complete without a side of the peanut sauce.
By the way you NEED my easy, authentic Chicken Satay recipe.
It took me a while to bring you this recipe, because I wanted to make sure that this is going to be the best, and only, reference you will ever need to make authentic Satay Peanut Sauce at home!
Shortcut peanut sauce recipes using peanut butter are great – but nothing beats a pot of authentic peanut satay sauce made from scratch! Trust me, once you make it this way, the difference is stark.
Making good, authentic peanut sauce can be intimidating. In this post, I’ll unravel all of the secrets and techniques behind crafting this delectable sauce, breaking it down step-by-step.
Why you will LOVE this recipe
- Authentic recipe: This is the real-deal way of making an AMAZING pot of Peanut Satay Sauce. For those who grew up enjoying hawker-style Satays, this peanut satay sauce is going to hold a special place in your hearts – bound to invoke a sense of nostalgia and tradition!
- Rich and Nutty Flavour: Satay peanut sauce has a deep, nutty flavour from the roasted peanuts. The toasty, earthy notes of peanuts provide a satisfying and comforting taste.
- Shortcuts with Zero Compromise on Flavour: In this recipe, I included shortcuts wherever possible, so you can get a full-flavoured sauce efficiently!
Key Ingredients to making PERFECT Satay Peanut Sauce
It’s a long list, I’m not going to lie – but this is absolutely worth it. Once you make satay peanut sauce this way, you will never want to make it another way because it is mind-blowingly DELICIOUS.
- Dried Chillies: If you want to make Singapore and Malaysian style of Satay Sauce, you need the dried chillies. Not only does it add some heat to the sauce, it’s going to give the sauce another depth of flavour, make it really rich. If you want to keep this spice free then you can omit it. You can also use ready-made dried chilli paste. For more information on dried chillies, see this post.
- Onions & Shallots
- Ginger: We have shallots here, you can also use red onions, or whatever onions you got, don’t stress, you’ll get the same results.
- Galangal: This is galangal or blue ginger and not to be mistaken for ginger. Ginger is more spicy warm, while galangal imparts a more floral, citrusy scent. If galangal is not accessible to you, skip the ingredient. Alternatively, use galangal powder. This recipe uses the equivalent of 1/2 tsp of galangal powder.
- Dried Shrimps: Optional, but dried shrimps will add umami to the sauce.
- Palm Sugar: Palm Sugar (gula melaka/gula jawa) is a key sweetener for the peanut sauce. Thai Palm Sugar will work as well. This will add a layer of caramelised depth and sweetness to the sauce. You can also use brown sugar, but regular sugar will work too.
- Vegetable Oil: Any neutral-tasting oil will work too.
- Water: To turn the thick peanut gravy into a sauce, we need plenty of water to loosen it! Alternatively you can also use stock for another layer of flavour, but in my opinion is unnecessary.
- Tamarind Paste
- Coconut Milk or Coconut Cream
- Dark Sweet Soy Sauce or Kecap Manis: Optional, but a dash of this will add that final touch of savoury-sweetness.
How to Make the BEST Satay Peanut Sauce
1. Toasting the Peanuts
- If you have purchased raw peanuts, they will need to be toasted or roasted beforehand. Follow the steps below for the two ways to do this.
- Once the peanuts are toasted, set them to one aside, and allow to cool down completely.
- Once the peanuts are cooled down, add to a blender or food processor. Give it a rough pulse, so that you get chunks of peanuts in the sauce. Once processed, remove and set to one side.
- If using a blender, it might be hard to get processed peanuts. You can add water, so you get a peanut paste. This will work too, although you may have a smoother satay sauce.
TIP! This step can be done ahead of time.
1. Dry Toast
- Start by toasting the peanuts over low to medium heat in a dry pan or wok. No oil is needed.
- Continuously stir the peanuts to toast. Work in batches to not overcrowd the pan, and for quicker toasting.
- Toast this until the peanuts are roasted; you will be able to smell a roasted, toasted scent. The skin should also be able to crumble off easily.
2. Air Fry or Oven Baked
- Another option is to toast the peanuts in an air fryer. This is my preferred method since I do not have to mind it while it toasts, and I’m free to work on the other ingredients.
- Toast at 160°C/320°F for 20 to 30 minutes. Halfway through, remove the air fryer basket and give it a quick shake for more even cooking.
- You can also toast these in the oven.
- Spread peanuts out in a large tray. Then allow to bake in the oven at 160°C/320°F for 1 hour, depending on the size and strength of the oven.
- Halfway through, remove the tray, and run a spatula through the peanuts to stir them.
- The exterior of the peanuts should be slightly darker in shade. Be careful to not burn the peanuts – this will yield an unpleasant, bitter sauce.
TIP! Want to skip this step altogether? Purchase readily toasted peanuts – the exact kind that you snack on! Plain peanuts are best, but they tend to come already salted; this is fine. Adjust the seasonings later on. Be sure the peanut snacks do not have any sugar or other seasonings on them.
2. Ingredient Prep
While the peanuts cool, prepare the rest of the ingredients to make the blended paste.
- Soak the dried chillies with hot water for 5 minutes, or until the chillies rehydrate and soften.
- At the same time, soak the dried shrimps in hot water for 5 minutes, or until soften.
- Peel and roughly chop the onions and shallots, garlic, ginger and galangal. The galangal can be tough to cut. Slice it at a bit of an angle and it should cut easier.
- Remove the hard outer layer of lemongrass, and the top and bottom root part. Give it a quick whack with the back of the knife, or a pestle to release fragrance. Slice at a diagonal.
- By now, the dried chillies and dried shrimps should be softened. Drain and set to one side. Chop the dried chillies to smaller pieces for easier blending.
3. Blend the Ingredients
- Add all of the prepped ingredients in the blender. Add about 1/4 cup of water, for easier blending. Alternatively, you can use vegetable oil. I prefer using just water, since oil can be tough to properly clean out.
- Turn the blender on and blitz to a smooth paste.
TIP! If blender is not blending easily, gradually add water, bit by bit, until you get a smooth paste. Do not add too much water.
4. Cook the Base Paste
- Add plenty of oil to the wok, and heat over low to medium heat.
- Once hot, add the blended paste.
- Continuously stir fry until the paste is fragrant and slightly dries down. The paste will initially absorb all of the oil, but you know it’s properly cooked when the oils are seemingly released back out. There should be red oil floating above the paste. If the paste is too dry before oil is released, add more oil.
- This can take a while, about 10 minutes, but be patient! Ensuring the paste cooks down properly will remove any raw flavours of the dried chillies and spices, giving you a rich and creamy sauce. This process is also known as pecah minyak, or ‘oil splitting’. For more information on this, and how to know you’ve successfully ‘pecah minyak‘, see this post.
5. Add the Roasted Peanuts
- Once the dried chilli paste has cooked down, add the blitzed peanuts and water. Stir to combine.
- Add your blocks of palm sugar and salt. Let this come up to a boil, before turning the heat down and allow to simmer until the palm sugar blocks melt. This should take about 15-20 minutes. If you are using granulated sugar, there is no need, of course, to wait for any melting.
- If you have time however, allow the satay sauce to simmer for longer. Allowing the satay sauce to simmer longer will allow the flavours to deepen further, and meld better with the peanuts. If a lot of water has evaporated, add back water to create the consistency that you prefer.
6. Final Seasoning
- Once the palm sugar has melted, add coconut milk for added creaminess, and tamarind paste to round off the flavours with sweet acidity.
- Optional, but adding a dash of kecap manis or dark sweet soy sauce will enhance the flavours further.
- Taste test and season accordingly with sugar and salt, if needed.
- Once you’re happy with the taste, Satay sauce is done!
Serve immediately while hot.
How to Serve Peanut Satay Sauce
Satay Peanut Sauce is amazing with satays, of course.
This ultra versatile sauce can also be used in various other ways:
- Dressing for Gado Gado: Use this sauce to drizzle over Gado Gado, an Indonesian salad featuring a colourful mix of cooked and raw vegetables, tofu, tempeh, and hard-boiled eggs, all generously drizzled with a savory peanut sauce.
- As Salad Dressing: Drizzling this over a salad will amp up the flavour and protein factor of your boring salad.
- Sauce for Noodles: Drizzle this over noodles and you can get yourself a bowl of satay noodles! Add more water or stock to loosen the sauce.
- Sauce for Rice Bowls: Need sauce for your rice bowl? This is the one for you! Peanut sauce is delicious when served with rice.
More Recipes Like This
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- The BEST Sambal Belacan
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- Chicken Satay Udon Noodles
The BEST, Authentic Satay Peanut SauceCourse: Recipes
500g raw peanuts
- Blended Paste
25g dried chillies, rehydrated in hot water and chopped
1 onion, chopped
4-5 shallots, chopped
5 cloves garlic
1-inch ginger, chopped
1-inch galangal, chopped
2 stalks lemongrass, bruised and sliced
1 tbsp dried shrimps, rehydrated in hot water
1/4 cup water, for easier blending
- Peanut Sauce
1 cup vegetable oil, with extra on the side
4 cups water, with extra on the side
100g palm sugar, or to taste
1 tbsp salt, or to taste
1 cup coconut milk
2 tbsps tamarind paste, or to taste
1 tbsp dark sweet soy sauce or kecap manis (optional)
- Start by toasting the raw peanuts. There are 3 easy methods:
1. Toast peanuts over low to medium heat in a dry pan or wok. No oil is needed.
2. Continuously stir the peanuts to toast. Work in batches to not overcrowd the pan, and for quicker toasting.
3. Once toasted, and the skin flakes off easily, keep to one side to cool down completely.
1. Preheat air fryer for 5 minutes.
2. Toast at 160°C/320°F for 20 to 30 minutes.
3. Halfway through, remove the air fryer basket and give it a quick shake for more even cooking.
4. Once toasted, remove from air fryer basket and allow to cool down completely.
1. Spread peanuts out in a large tray.
2. Bake in a preheated oven at 160°C/320°F for 1 hour, depending on the size and strength of the oven.
3. Halfway through, remove the tray, and run a spatula through the peanuts to stir them for even cooking.
4. Once roasted, remove tray from oven and allow peanuts to cool down completely.
- Once the peanuts are cooled down completely, add to a blender or food processor. Give it a rough pulse, so that you get chunks of peanuts in the sauce. Once processed, remove and set to one side.
- Blending the Aromatic Paste
- While the peanuts cool, prepare the rest of the ingredients to make the blended paste:
– Soak the dried chillies with hot water for 5 minutes, or until the chillies rehydrate and soften. Once rehydrated, drain and chop dried chillies to smaller pieces for easier blending.
– At the same time, soak the dried shrimps in hot water for 5 minutes, or until soften.
– Peel and roughly chop the onions and shallots, garlic, ginger and galangal.
– Remove the hard outer layer of lemongrass, and the top and bottom root part. Bruise lemongrass with the back of the knife, or a pestle to release fragrance. Slice at a diagonal.
- Add all of the prepped ingredients in the blender. Add about 1/4 cup of water, for easier blending. Turn the blender on and blitz to a smooth paste.
- Making the Peanut Sauce
- Add plenty of oil to the wok, and heat over low to medium heat. Once hot, add the blended paste.
- Continuously stir fry until the paste is fragrant and slightly dries down. The paste should have emulsified and released oil. If the paste is too dry before oil is released, add more oil. This ‘pecah minyak’ or oil splitting process can take 10 minutes or so. See this post for how to achieve perfect ‘pecah minyak’.
- Once the dried chilli paste has cooked down, add the blitzed peanuts and water. Stir to combine.
- Add your blocks of palm sugar and salt to taste. Let this to come to a boil, before turning the heat down and allow to simmer for 15 minutes, or until the palm sugar blocks melt.
- Once the palm sugar has melted, add coconut milk and tamarind paste. If too much liquid has cooked off, add more water. Add dark sweet soy sauce or kecap manis, if using.
- Let sauce come up to another boil. Taste test and season accordingly with sugar and salt, if needed.
- Once you’re happy with the taste, satay sauce is done. Serve hot!