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 not be afraid of flavour. . .
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
- Blend the spice paste (in a blender or mortar) including enough oil to moisten.
1 - 2 tablespoons oil
- Stir fry the spice paste until it turns a pale pinky brown and fragrant (5 min)
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 * (or lemon juice)
1/2 teaspoon 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
* for 1/3 cup of tamarind juice, soak 1 teaspoon pulp with 1/3 cup of hot water for 5 min, mash, and strain