Peanut sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

Fire Islands: Recipes from Indonesia

Fire Islands

By Eleanor Ford

Published 2019

  • About

Peanut sauce is a big deal in Indonesia, and in our house. For a lighter, fragrant version see the Gado gado peanut dressing, but it’s this, its dark and intense cousin, that I turn to for Chicken sate. The peanuts are cooked twice, first to brown and secondly to caramelise to stickiness in the sauce. Simple but loud flavours.


  • 100 g ( cup) raw peanuts, skin on
  • 1 tablespoon oil, for frying peanuts
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon shrimp paste, toasted (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon dark palm sugar (gula jawa), grated
  • 3 tablespoons kecap manis juice of ½ a lime


Fry the peanuts to bring out their toasty flavour. Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan over a high heat. When shimmering, add the nuts and stir-fry for a minute. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to fry, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until the nuts are deep golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.

Tip the nuts into a food processor (keep the skins on) with the garlic, shrimp paste, palm sugar and a good pinch of salt. Blitz to a sandy rubble, then scrape the sides and process for another minute. Continue scraping and blitzing for a few minutes at a time until you have a smooth puree (it should get there, with some perseverance).

Transfer the peanut butter to a saucepan, add the kecap manis and a small glassful of water. Cook over a medium-high heat, stirring often, until you have a sauce that is dark and slightly sticky. Thin with more water if it gets too thick - you want it to thickly coat the sate but be just pourable. Leave to cool and taste for seasoning, adjusting the saltiness and sweetness if you like. A final spritz of lime juice will brighten the flavours.