Peanut Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • makes about

    300 ml

Appears in

New Wave Asian: A Guide to the Southeast Asian Food Revolution

New Wave Asian

By Sri Owen

Published 2002

  • About

I have adapted this from various recipes widely known in Southeast Asia to make a basic peanut sauce that will go well as a dressing for vegetables, or as a dip and a sauce with grilled meat, fish or shellfish. This doesn’t mean it has become bland – it is still an assertive, piquant sauce, full of Eastern flavour.


  • 115 ml/ 4 fl oz groundnut or sunflower oil
  • 225 g/ 8 oz raw shelled (but still with their pink skins) peanuts

For the Spice Paste

  • 3 shallots or 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp tamarind water or lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan and fry the peanuts for 4 minutes, stirring them frequently. With a slotted spoon, transfer them to a colander lined with absorbent paper and leave them to cool. Then grind them to a fine powder in a blender or coffee grinder.

Make the spice paste: put all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a wok or large shallow saucepan and heat, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes.

Add 600 ml/ 1 pt water and bring the sauce to the boil. Add the ground peanuts, stir, cover the wok or pan and simmer for 3 minutes. Uncover and continue to simmer, stirring often, for another 2 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced to the thickness required by the recipe. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.

This sauce can be stored for up to 1 week in an airtight jar in the fridge. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw it out completely before reheating it in a saucepan. If it has become too thick, add a little water and continue heating until it reaches the right consistency for the recipe in which it is to be used.