Thai Peanut Sauce

Nahm Jim Thua

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    3½ cups

Appears in

Southeast Asian Flavors: Adventures in Cooking the Foods of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia & Singapore

Southeast Asian Flavors

By Robert Danhi

Published 2008

  • About

Peanut sauce is a recent addition to the Thai cook’s repertoire. Satay originated further south in Indonesia. However as Thai food has become popularized in the U.S., satay and peanut sauce have been associated with Thai Food. Thai Style peanut sauce uses aromatics such as lemongrass, galangal, chilies, coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Tamarind balances rich coconut milk and sweet palm sugar (tamarind pulp technique). It cooks for only 10 minutes, very quick when compared with over an hour with Malaysian peanut sauce.


  • 3 cups Canned coconut milk, stirred (divided use)
  • ¼ cup Red curry paste (add 1 more tablespoon if paste was made in blender) or store bought
  • ¼ tsp. Ground turmeric
  • 1 cup Water
  • ½ cup Light brown palm sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Fish sauce (nahm pla)
  • ½ tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 cup Peanuts, roasted in dry pan, finely ground
  • ¼ cup Tamarind pulp


  1. Heat 1 cup of coconut milk in a wok or 4 qt. (4 L.) saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often until it thickens substantially and oil begins to separate out of creamy milk, about 5 minutes. Stir in curry paste and turmeric well, cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes “roasting” the paste to develop the flavors.
  2. Add 2 cups of coconut milk, water, palm sugar, fish sauce, salt, and peanuts; bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Lower heat; simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in remaining coconut milk and tamarind and bring back up to a simmer.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste with fish sauce, palm sugar, and tamarind.