This incredibly flavorful satay Thai peanut sauce is made by roasting and crushing our own peanuts and cooking down shallots and spices.
You're probably asking, "Why would you bother with the extra ingredients and roasting peanut steps?" My main reason is flavour and texture. The extra ingredients and steps it gives this satay Thai peanut sauce a bit more dimension and flavour which will make it incredibly flavorful (and tasty!) It won't taste like a peanut butter sauce that's missing that something something. Really!
But what if I'm feeling lazy today to crush & roast peanuts?
I know there are days when you can't be bothered. Hey, I get it! Lazy days right? I have them too! For those lazy days you can substitute roasting and crushing your own peanuts for peanut butter but only use natural unsweetened peanut butter. You know the one where the oil separates from the nutty stuff? Yea, that the stuff. You won't be able to shortcut anymore than that since the extra spices and ingredients really make the satay Thai peanut sauce. 😛
Bonus : Multi-purpose satay Thai peanut sauce!
This satay Thai peanut sauce is not just for Satays! Drizzle some on some cold noodles with veggies! or just freeze it in an ice cube tray to use another day. Re-heat it in a low heat pan.
INGREDIENTS FOR THAI PEANUT SAUCE
For the satay Thai peanut sauce recipe, you can find most of these ingredients at an Asian grocery store.
If you are using tamarind paste, you will need to add some water to reconstitute it and strain out the seeds, skins, and pulp before you use it. If you are using tamarind concentrate, make sure you are using ones from made in Thailand instead of ones from India. Tamarind concentrate from India is a lot stronger and sour than the ones from Thailand.
Although galangal and ginger come from the same family they taste quite different. Ginger has a much stronger flavour so do not substitute 1:1. You can either omit the galangal if you can't find it or just use 1 small slice of ginger.
Palm sugar may be a tricky thing to find but can be found at Asian grocery stores. If you must substitute it, just remember that palm sugar isn't as sweet as conventional sugars and it also provides a creaminess as well. I would substitute it with brown sugar if you cannot find it.
For the spicy element of this recipe, you can use birds eye chili. Start with 2 and work your way up. I don't always have this on hand so I sometimes cheat and just use a chili hot sauce in place of the chili peppers 😛
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
Let's talk about the peanuts since it's the star of this recipe.
If there is one thing I would change about this recipe, I would not buy skinned peanuts. Unless you enjoy spending an hour peeling peanuts. 😛 because that's what I did and it was frustrating.
I'm all for using whole fresh ingredients but I don't believe in creating more work for the sake of being a purist when it doesn't compromise flavour. For this recipe, please please please use the peanuts with no skin. You have better things to do than to peel the skins off the peanuts - it gets quite tedious.
Even though you can buy pre-roasted peanuts, I highly recommend roasting them on the stove yourself as well. You don't know how long it's been siting on the shelves for and the longer it sits on the shelves the more stale they will taste. So revive them with a quick roast! 🙂
Tip #1: Do you prefer smoother satay Thai peanut sauces? Just add the completed sauce into a blender and blitz it!
Thai Satay Peanut Sauce
- Although galangal and ginger come from the same family they taste very different. Do not substitute the galangal for ginger if you don't have it. Omit the galangal from the recipe instead
- Everyone's preference is always different when it comes to peanut sauce. Tweak it until it's perfect for you. To make it more sour, use some lime juice. To make it more sweet, use some condensed milk. To make it more savoury, add some more fish sauce.
- Smooth or Chunky? This recipe will produces a hearty chunk sauce with peanut bits but if you enjoy a smoother sauce you can just throw it in the food processor and blitz it! ?
- If you have concentrated tamarind paste, do not substitute it 1:1 to the tamarind pulp. I find the pulp has a milder flavour and the concentrated tamarind paste is VERY potent and sour. Start with ½ teaspoon of the concentrated tamarind paste, and do a taste test and add more if you like it more sour.
- 1 cup peanuts (unsalted, skinless)
- 1 stalk lemongrass (approximately ¼ cup)
- 3 x3 cm galangal (see notes)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 small shallots
- 2-3 birds eye chili (finely chopped)
- 2 teaspoon tamarind pulp (seeds and pulp removed)
- 1 cup coconut milk
- ¼ cup palm sugar
- ¾ cup water (add more if you prefer a thinner sauce)
- 2-3 tablespoon fish sauce
- ½ lime (juiced)
- unsalted raw peanuts (roasted and finely crushed)
Roast the Peanuts
- Assuming you bought peanuts without the skin, throw them in a frying pan and give them a quick roast until they are toasty and brown. [If you bought shelled peanuts, shell them and toast them with the skin and once it cools you can rub the peanuts between your palms to remove the skin. They will not all fall out easily so it will be a bit more time consuming.]
- Once they are toasted and brown, let them cool a bit. Then in a mortar and pestle crush the peanuts up finely. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can either quick pulse it in a food processor or hand chop it finely.
- Reserve 1-2 tablespoons of the finely crushed peanuts as a topping
Making the Sauce
- Soak the tamarind pulp in a 3-4 tablespoons of water for a few minutes and then strain out the seeds and skins. (See notes for difference between tamarind pulp and concentrated tamarind paste)
- Chop up the galangal, garlic, lemongrass and shallots and put it into a food processor and blitz it to it is almost a paste. If you don’t have a food processor you can chop them by hand but chop them up finely. The finer the chop the less chunks in the sauce.
- In a pan, add some oil onto medium heat and brown the lemongrass, shallot, garlic galangal mixture.
- Add in the chopped birds eye chili and continue to cook it in the pan for a few minutes.
- Turn down the stove to low heat and add in the coconut milk, fish sauce, tamarind water, lime juice, and water and stir until combined.
- Add in the palm sugar and peanuts and continue to cook for 10-15 minutes
- If you find the sauce too thick, add some more water to thin it out.
- Taste it and adjust the flavour. Is it salty, sweet or sour enough for you? Everyone has a different preference on how they enjoy peanut sauce. Adjust accordingly by tweaking it with lime juice, sugar or fish sauce.
*Nutritional information is calculated using online tools and is an estimate*
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Gloria Chiverton says
Delicious, I skipped the chilli as it makes me cough, had to substitute honey for palm sugar, but oh soo yum.
Nitish Kulkarni says
Hi! How long will this last for in the fridge?
Joyce Lee says
I keep it in the fridge for about a week. No more than a week and a half.
Hope that helps
I love peanut sauce but have developed a nut allergy..... I know it won’t be exactly the same but can I substitute with tahini?
Joyce Lee says
Hmmm, that is a very good question! I wouldn't use tahini since very different than peanut butter and it has a slightly bitter taste to it. The closest I have come to the peanut butter flavour is Chinese sesame paste. It's similar to tahini but I think the sesame seeds are roasted before it is made into a paste. Hopefully, this helps! I have a simple peanut sauce under my 'Grilled Thai Coconut Chicken Skewers' recipe that you can probably substitute the peanut butter out with Chinese sesame paste. You can usually find the Chinese sesame paste in an Asian grocery store in glass jars, they have the same brown colour as peanut butter but the oil is separated from the sesame paste. When you get home, just use a utensil and mix the oil back with the paste and then refrigerate it, and won't separate for any future uses. Hope this helps! 🙂