…from the California Kitchen
How you doin’? I was always under the impression that Peanut Sauce originated in Thailand where it is used as a multi-purpose condiment. But actually, it’s an international favorite, maybe one of the first to stretch across Europe, North America and Asia.
Introduced from Mexico by Portuguese and Spanish merchants in the 16th century, peanuts found a place within Indonesian cuisine in a popular sauce. Peanuts thrived in the tropical environment of Southeast Asia, and today, they can be found roasted and chopped finely, topping a variety of dishes and in marinades and dipping sauces.
Peanut sauces reached the peak of sophistication in Indonesia, with the delicate balance of taste achieved from various ingredients according to each recipe of peanut sauce; fried peanuts, gula jawa (palm sugar), garlic, shallot, ginger, tamarind, lemon juice, lemongrass, salt, chili, pepper, and sweet soy sauce all ground together and mixed with water to achieve the right texture (in this recipe I use peanut butter).
The secret to good peanut sauce is to make it not too thick and not too watery. Indonesian peanut sauce tends to be less sweet than the Thai version (which is a hybrid adaptation). Gado-gado is eaten with peanut sauce throughout Indonesia showcasing the delicate balance of sweet, spicy and sour. Satays are commonly served with peanut sauce. However, satay doesn't actually mean peanut sauce. Southeast Asia’s favorite street food snack is a plate of skewered, grilled meat (pork, beef or chicken) with an infinite variety of sauces.
This Peanut Sauce Recipe is my Thai version, because I first learned to make it at the cooking school at the Oriental Bangkok Hotel. It can be used as a dipping sauce or a salad dressing, and can be used on peanut noodles, a drizzle on pizza or with chicken satay.
1/2 cup peanut butter natural, unsweetened
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce (use tamari or coconut aminos for gluten free)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar (or better yet palm sugar if you can find it)
2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (or to taste)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
3 garlic cloves pressed or grated
1 tablespoon ginger root grated
2-4 tablespoons warm water
ChefSecret: My preference is for unsweetened peanut butter. If you use some commercial brands of peanut butter that include sugar, the sauce may turn out too sweet. Try reducing the sugar to 1 tablespoon—taste and adjust.
Covid-19 Quip of the Day: “Have you ever found yourself in the ‘What can I do with a pound of green beans and chocolate cake mix? I think I’m at that stage of needing to go grocery shopping."
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