Indonesian Peanut Sauce

Indonesia used to be a Dutch colony, and Indonesian food still plays a major role in the Dutch food culture. One of the most common Indonesian foods is “saté”, grilled marinated skewers of chicken or pork served with a peanut sauce that is referred to as “satésaus”. This sauce is even served with french fries (“patatje oorlog”, also with mayonnaise) and other snacks. Home-made peanut sauce has a more interesting taste and you can make adapt it to your own preference. Most satésaus is store-bought, but apart from finding the right ingredients it isn’t hard to make by yourself from scratch. I cheated a little and used store-bought peanut butter rather than making that from scratch as well (from peanuts).


2 shallots, minced

3 red chile peppers, minced (with or without seeds) or 1 Tbsp “sambal ulek” (Indonesian raw chili paste)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp trassi (Indonesian fermented shrimp powder)

1/2 tsp powdered galangal/laos (or 1 cm fresh galangal root)

1 1/2 tsp assem (tamarind syrup, substitute with lemon juice)

2 tsp gula jawa (Indonesian brown sugar, substitute with regular brown sugar)

3 dried lemon or lime leaves, stem removed and shredded

1 tsp salt

6 Tbsp ‘crunchy’ peanutbutter

50 grams santen (creamed coconut)


Put the shallots, garlic, chile peppers or sambal, trassi, laos, tamarind, sugar, salt, and lemon leaves in a pestle.

Use pestle and mortar to grind into a pulp.

Transfer to a saucepan.

Add 200 ml (5/6 cup) cold water.

Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute, stirring.

Lower the heat. Add peanutbutter and creamed coconut and simmer, stirring, until both have completely dissolved.

Taste the sauce and add more of any of the ingredients to adjust it to your preference.

If the sauce is too thick and/or too strong, you can dilute it with a bit of milk or water.


16 thoughts on “Indonesian Peanut Sauce

  1. I reckon that must be very tasty. It puts me in mind of a long ago trip to Amsterdam with the Wife. We had ricetaffle (pardon the spelling). You would impress if you did a post on that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rijsttafel is a Dutch colonial invention. The dishes it consists of are all Indonesian, but the way of serving all the different dishes at the same time was something my ancestors wanted to impress their guests. I don’t think I’ll be making a rijsttafel any time soon, but perhaps at some point in the future since I have started to experiment more with Asian cuisine.
      Right now, the closest thing I make once in a while is an antipasto spread 😉


  2. This is a much more complex sauce than I’d anticipated. There are a number of Asian markets in this area, although I don’t know whether they have Indonesian ingredients. Well, tis the season for scavenger hunts. It would be interesting to see just how many of these ingredients are available here.


    1. It is the complexity that makes it interesting. I think all of the ingredients are not just Indonesian but more general to South-East Asia, but I don’t have a clue if they are available in the USA.


  3. Very interesting sauce. I make my own sambal olek and peanut butter. I have never seen the fermented shrimp powder or the gula jawa. Now I have another excuse to go to the various Asian markets in the area. 🙂


    1. The fermented shrimp powder smells horrible, but it gives a great depth to the sauce. The powder is actually ground from blocks of shrimp paste, so you might encounter it in that shape.


      1. It’s always amazing how many of the Asian food items smell awful but add great flavor, Fish Sauce comes to mind as another. It makes me wonder what prompted someone to eat it. 😮 The fermented shrimp paste with which I am familiar is a paste, not a block. I will have to go see what I can find. I always enjoy shopping at the Asian markets.


        1. If it smells even more horrible than fish sauce, you can probably use it as a substitute for the terasi 😉
          Most recipes from South-East Asian are from long before refrigerators were introduced into the region. The famous beef rendang (which I might try to make for the first time sometimes this winter) can be kept for a month at room temperature after it has been cooked. Originally, terasi was made by burying the shrimp under ground and then retrieving the fermented shrimp again months later… Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?


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