Peanut Sauce

Traditional Indonesian Peanut Sauce

This would be the original version of Indonesian peanut sauce. How original? It is so original, that it makes use of almost all of the spices found in this archipelago. It is a pain to get all the ingredients, that I honestly think that you can make this as one of the challenges for those reality show. If you want to learn about Indonesian spices, try to make this peanut sauce, from scratch.

The taste of the sauce is so complex, that it is bursting with all kinds of flavor merge into one. But the amazing structure of our taste buds, makes it possible for those with sensitive palate to pick up the taste of each spices used. I can assure you that it is not me.

As any traditional or original recipes, I attempted to make this from scratch. Yeah, including the steps of roasting peanuts.

Get some raw ground nuts.

Wash them under running water for a couple of minutes in a colander. Some raw nuts have nasty stuff on the skin. I read it somewhere. We always wash nuts at home before using, whether or not it is proven that it has nasty stuff. It just feel like the right thing to do, I guess.

Dry on clean paper towel and put them on a baking pan. Lightly spray with oil.

Bake in a preheated oven (at 180 celcius). Keep an eye on them as they burn easily. They will brown nicely if you turn the pan a couple of times (and shake the pan lightly) in the course of 5-8 minutes. Remove them when they are slightly browned. The nuts will keep on roasting on the hot pan even when removed from oven. Use a rolling pin to get coarse textured ground peanuts. Alternatively use a food processor for finer nuts.

Now these are the fresh and dried spices for the sauce.

Always use more shallots than garlic.

Fresh red chilies. Get rid off the seeds by carefully slicing the chili open and scrape the seeds using fork. That would make it less spicy. We are dare-devils. We live vicariously. Hence we never remove seeds.

Dried chilies. Soak them in warm water for a couple of minutes before using. Scrape off the seeds for less heat.

Galangal. We can grow this by just dropping this on a pot of dirt. Before using in the sauce, lightly bruise it with a pestle or knife.

Clockwise – candlenuts, cardamom pod, nutmeg, cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise, ginger, and fennel seeds in the middle. If ground spices are used, you only need a pinch of each of these.

Some palm sugar, famously known as gula melaka or gula merah.

Some kaffir lime leaves – one of my most favorite herbs

Lemongrass, cut off the bottom part and divide them into two or three parts.

If fresh coriander seeds are used, they need to be washed in advance. Get rid off the floating seeds – sign that they are going bad

Toast the seeds before using on stove top for a couple of minutes. Some other ingredients not shown here are salam leaves and tamarind pulp.

Some spices are used whole or as is, and some are ground using mortar and pestle.

Spices ground are shallots and garlic, fresh and dried chilies, ginger, candlenut, coriander seeds.

Process them or pound them until they resemble coarse chili paste.

Stir-fry the paste with a little bit of oil till fragrant on a non-stick pan. This is an integral part of Indonesian cooking. Chili paste always needs to be stir-fried before going up to the next step of cooking. Cook till it turns a shade darker.

Add tamarind pulp juice and palm sugar. Continue cooking for a while, stirring and turning so that the spice paste, sugar and tamarind juice are mixed well.

Add the leafy ingredients, such as kaffir lime leaves and salam leaves. Toss in the stalky ingredients too, the lemongrass stalks and galangal. Stir-fry quickly until they slightly wilted and impart their fragrances

Pour in the coconut milk and lower the heat to a simmer.

Toss in the other dried spices. The dried spices when cooked too long, they can give the sauce bitter aftertaste. So it is better to remove them after done cooking. Easier said than done, I have decided to use spice bag next time so I can scoop off everything without fishing for cinnamon and cloves in a bowl of peanut sauce! Also, season with salt and pepper (if necessary)

When the sauce slightly bubbles up, add the ground peanuts and stir well.

When it has reached your desired consistency, remove all the herbs. If it is too thick, add some hot water. If it is too runny, cook slightly longer.

This is what it looks like at the end. The sauce will thicken by itself on standing, because roasted peanuts act like sponge and draw in all the excess moisture from the coconut milk. You can divide the sauce base into two servings and add half of ground peanuts on one serving and refrigerate the other. Heat up sauce base and mix in ground peanuts right before serving.

Serve with satay and cucumbers or rice cake. If you have neither, heat up a slice of baguette and dip it into the sauce. When all those aren’t available, a spoon is good enough!


Traditional Indonesian Peanut Sauce

Makes 3 cups


10 shallots
2 garlic cloves
5 dried chilies
5 red chilies
1/2 cm fresh ginger
2 candlenut
1/2 tsp ground coriander (or 2 tbsp coriander seeds)
1/4 cup cooking oil
30 g palm sugar (gula melaka / gula merah)
1/2 tbsp tamarind pulp, dissolve in 2 tbsp hot water
5 kaffir lime leaves
5 salam leaves, bruised
30 g galangal, bruised
1 lemongrass
1/4 fresh nutmeg
3 cloves
2 cm cinnamon
1/4 star anise (optional)
1 cardamom pod
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
250 cc coconut milk
100 g roasted peanuts, ground coarsely

50 cc hot water (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste (optional)


Pound shallots, garlic, dried and fresh chilies, ginger, candlenut and ground coriander in a mortar to coarse paste.

Heat cooking oil in a non-stick pan. Stir-fry chili paste over medium heat for 3-5 minutes.

Add palm sugar and tamarind juice. Cook for another minute.

Add kaffir lime leaves, salam leaves, galangal and lemongrass stalks. Stir-fry quickly about 2 minutes.

Pour in coconut milk and lower heat. Simmer for 5-7 minutes, keep on stirring.

Toss in the rest of the spices and cook briefly for a minute.

Add the ground peanut. Stir well and remove from heat.

Serve warm with satay or meat skewers and rice cake.

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51 Responses to “Peanut Sauce”

  1. 1

    FoodieAnn — November 26, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

    Beautiful post

    • Jun replied: — November 27th, 2010 @ 6:10 pm

      Thank you, Ann!

  2. 2

    Pepy @Indonesia Eats — November 26, 2010 @ 2:54 pm

    It’s closed to gado-gado sauce with the use of coconut milk but this one has much more spices in it. I bet this has more flavour

    • Jun replied: — November 27th, 2010 @ 6:10 pm

      Yeah but it can be bitter if the dried spices are left to swim in it for too long …. :)

  3. 3

    A box of kitchen — November 26, 2010 @ 6:37 pm

    Your sambal kacang looks divine! I want to swim in it, haha! Your recipe has much much more spices than what mine usually has, but I bet yours gives an outstanding result. Going to try it soon! Happy weekend!

    • Jun replied: — November 27th, 2010 @ 6:10 pm

      Thank you!

  4. 4

    Carolyn Jung — November 26, 2010 @ 10:27 pm

    I wish my computer had smell–o-vision because that peanut sauce LOOKS astounding, so I can only imagine how fragrant it must be. Delicious!

    • Jun replied: — November 27th, 2010 @ 6:11 pm

      Smell-o-vision .. brilliant! Haha.

  5. 5

    Alli — November 26, 2010 @ 11:30 pm

    Beautiful blog and photography, I love your recipes too and will certainly come back!

    • Jun replied: — November 27th, 2010 @ 6:12 pm

      It is so nice for you to drop by! Thanks for visiting!

  6. 6

    Hannah @ Bake Five — November 27, 2010 @ 1:32 am

    oh my, that’s a lot of ingredients that go in. Good stuff though! Asian food beats fish and chips hands down

    • Jun replied: — November 27th, 2010 @ 6:12 pm

      Nah, fish and chips has its merits too. Fried food never die! :D

  7. 7

    Jean at The Delightful Repast — November 27, 2010 @ 9:21 am

    How I wish my mother were alive to make this! She would have had such fun driving all over creation to find all the ingredients and then spending the time making it the old-fashioned way, including roasting the peanuts. Your pictures are amazing! They make me feel as if I can actually smell the sauce!

    • Jun replied: — November 27th, 2010 @ 6:13 pm

      Thank you for visiting, Jean!

  8. 8

    Inspired2cook — November 27, 2010 @ 10:08 am

    Your peanut sauce looks divine!

    • Jun replied: — November 27th, 2010 @ 6:13 pm

      Despite the effort, it taste kinda great Thank you for visiting!

  9. 9

    Tuty — November 27, 2010 @ 2:36 pm

    This sauce is a labor of love…..

    • Jun replied: — November 27th, 2010 @ 6:13 pm

      Haha a lot of work, definitely!

  10. 10

    tigerfish — November 27, 2010 @ 6:42 pm

    Peanut sauce seems and looks simply but looking at the ingredients and spices in there, it is not that straight-forward, in my opinion, to make a delicious peanut sauce.

    • Jun replied: — November 27th, 2010 @ 11:17 pm

      Yeah I know what you mean! I am trying to look for simpler recipes. Peanut sauce is always everybody’s favorite and it would be great if can be whipped out easily. :)

  11. 11

    Trissa — November 27, 2010 @ 11:43 pm

    Uhm seriously, where has your blog been all my life? I have been drooling for the last 10 minutes and will surely spend more time here. I can’t believe you made this – looks totally authentic. I am sure I can trust this recipe.

    • Jun replied: — November 30th, 2010 @ 5:01 am

      Aww you just made my week! Thank you for visiting!

  12. 12

    Debs @ Acquiredish — November 28, 2010 @ 6:34 am

    Wow, that’s hard work! But it sounds worth it.

    The photos are making me dribble LOL.

    • Jun replied: — November 30th, 2010 @ 5:02 am

      A LOT of work! I am looking for a simpler recipe for an easy preparation.

  13. 13

    noobcook — November 28, 2010 @ 10:18 am

    You’re such a fantastic cook! can make satay bee hoon with the sauce! your photos are always so stunning!

    • Jun replied: — November 30th, 2010 @ 5:03 am

      Satay bee hoon? Now you’ve done it. I want some. Now. :D

  14. 14

    mycookinghut — November 28, 2010 @ 12:21 pm

    This is such a delicious sauce! I love it with satay.. *drool*

    • Jun replied: — November 30th, 2010 @ 5:03 am

      It was almost gone by the time I was done grilling the satay …

  15. 15

    Peggy — November 29, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

    This is a beautiful tutorial on how to make this sauce! I’m sure there was flavor radiating from every inch of this!

    • Jun replied: — November 30th, 2010 @ 5:04 am

      Yes you are right! I bet you are going to love this.

  16. 16

    Radhika @ foodfor7stages — November 29, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

    Wonderful step by step pics. I just can’t stop drooling at the peanut sauce. It is hot and spicy.

    • Jun replied: — November 30th, 2010 @ 5:05 am

      LOL. Thank you for your visit!

  17. 17

    Chicken with Coconut-Lime Peanut Sauce Recipe: Thai, Asian Inspired — Family Fresh Cooking — February 3, 2011 @ 8:27 am

    [...] Traditional Peanut Sauce Indochine Kitchen [...]

  18. 18

    Rachel @ Bakerita — July 12, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

    I was just in Bali and took a cooking class, and of course my mom lost the booklet with all the recipes!
    This is EXACTLY like what we made, except we deep fried all the ingredients instead of roasting them. Thanks so much!! Making this tonight :)

  19. 19

    Jackie — July 23, 2011 @ 1:07 pm


  20. 20

    asianfoodophile — August 9, 2011 @ 5:54 pm

    Too lazy to make satay myself so I’ll just cut up a couple of big red onions and use each layer of onion to scoop up the peanut sauce and pop them into my mouth. Sooo delicious.

    Fantastic sauce.

  21. 21

    siany — August 25, 2011 @ 9:54 am

    wow bravo, it’s quite a work…. I might wanna try it someday if I really miss this (which prolly soon!) thank you!

  22. 22

    Tom Braak — June 18, 2012 @ 9:55 am

    Been living in Haiti for 15 years. Starting to look into other recipes using ingredients I can get here (or stock in y pantry). Made a chicken potpie with curry and a jarred peanut sauce this week, followed by a beef sweet and sour. I can get all but the kaffir lime leaves and candlenut (never hear of the latter). Will have to find plants for both of these and grow my own. Thanks for the great looking recipe!

  23. 23

    Tom Braak — June 18, 2012 @ 9:56 am

    Might this be frozen? I like to cook large quantities whenever possible and store. If not freezing, could I can it?

    • Jun replied: — July 14th, 2012 @ 10:00 am

      I think it could be frozen. No canning, definitely, because of the high coconut milk content :)

  24. 24

    Bradford Glade — July 10, 2012 @ 6:09 pm

    Hi Jun,

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe and the wonderful photos that accompany it. I just finished making this sauce and had it with some chicken satays and rice. Wow! What a wonderful complex flavor it has. I was not able to find salam leaves or candlenut in my area nor did I have any macadamia nuts as a substitute so I ground three blanched almonds instead and did not make any substitutes for the salam leaves. This was definitely a labor of love as I used a mortar and pestle for the chili paste and it turned out delicious! I’ll definitely make this again!


  25. 25

    nurul — September 1, 2012 @ 5:12 pm

    Wow!! I was looking for a peanut sauce recipe and this is the ultimate one!! What are salam leaves? I haven’t heard of that before. Beautiull pictures and step by step instructions! Thank you!!

    • Jun replied: — September 26th, 2012 @ 10:55 pm

      Salam leaves are basically Indonesian version of bay leaves. They are not substitutable but can be omitted entirely if you can’t find any.

  26. 26

    louise — January 14, 2013 @ 4:49 am

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I made it last week and it’s the closest I’ve come to the satay sauce I used to eat living in Surabaya. Fantastic!
    (Although I have to admit I didn’t find candlenut … still looking for some).

  27. 27

    marla — February 3, 2013 @ 8:08 am

    Love this recipe! Will be linking back to this in my upcoming post :)

  28. 28

    Indonesian Satay sauce | — June 17, 2013 @ 1:42 am

    [...] of this recipe is from here. Adapted to my taste and what I could find in [...]

  29. 29

    Nigel borman — August 20, 2013 @ 9:26 pm

    Hannah ? beats fish and chips hands down ??? i have been married to a Philipina and an Indonesian also a Greek girl.
    (I like Wedding Cake Alright ) and at varying times were all heard to say

    oh! i could just eat some English Fish and Chips ! no Kidding!

  30. 30

    Rob — October 12, 2014 @ 8:26 pm

    thank you for this recipe, most amazing, fragrant peanut sauce!!! Can’t believe the complexity of the flavours. I made it yesterday, with family coming over. My mother’s family left Indo some 50 years ago, but still has vivid memories of the satays, and your sauce has bought back a flood of memories for her.
    Sharing your recipes is such a beautiful gift.

  31. 31

    Mike — October 13, 2014 @ 10:40 pm

    Jun, this looks fabulous and luckily here in Sydney we can get most of the ingredients except perhaps Salam leaves.

    Anyway, my question was how long will the peanut sauce last after I make it? And would I be able to freeze it? I won’t use 3 cups so am hoping it will keep a while in the fridge or will be ok to freeze.

  32. 32

    Jody — January 18, 2015 @ 2:18 am

    Wow such a great taste, making it for Dutch War Fries…I love the “from scratch” recipe thanks keep up the great job

  33. 33

    Tedd — June 28, 2015 @ 1:53 pm

    Picture, Foods and Very well written… and Funny ; )

    Thank you for sharing these joy!


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