This is the best-known, best-loved sauce for satay. It is also used for Gado-Gado, and goes well with any grilled meat or hamburger steak.
If you like your satay sauce chilli-hot, there are several quite passable powdered instant sauces on the market. For making it yourself, there are various so-called short cuts, most of them involving crunchy peanut butter. Avoid these; the method described below is as easy, cheaper, and much nicer.
Stir-fry the peanuts for 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain in a colander, and leave to cool. Then pound or grind the nuts into a fine powder, using a blender, coffee grinder, or pestle and mortar. Discard the oil, except for 1 tablespoonful.
Crush the garlic, shallots and shrimp paste in a mortar with a little salt, and fry in the remaining oil for 1 minute. Add the chilli powder, sugar, soy sauce and water. Bring this to the boil, then add the ground peanuts. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce becomes thick; this should take about 8–10 minutes. Add the tamarind water or lemon juice and more salt if needed.
When cool, keep in a jar in the fridge. Reheat as required for use with satay or as a dip for crudités or savoury snacks. The sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.
© 1994 Sri Owen. All rights reserved.