Sunday, 10 July 2011

sweet, savoury, spicy peanut sauce dressing

This peanut sauce came into my life at just the right time. I had almost forgotten how awesome a thick, creamy, warm and spicy peanut sauce can be, and this one certainly served as a reminder of what I've been missing out on all this time. It's simple, but it really hits the spot. If you're ever in need of a salad dressing that encourages you to eat your vegetables, give this sweet, savoury, spicy peanut sauce a whirl. It had me gobbling up all those leafy greens in record time... and I was asking for more by the end of it.

If you've not attempted your own peanut sauce before, this basic recipe is an easy one to follow, and I've opted for fairly common ingredients, which means you don't have to make a special trip to the Asian grocery store. So what are you waiting for? Make it. And lick it off the spoon while you're making it.

You know you want to.

sweet, savoury, spicy peanut sauce dressing.

sweet, savoury, spicy peanut sauce dressing

1/2 cup peanuts
1 cup coconut milk
2 long red chillies*, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon raw sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
subtle pinch of powdered spices e.g. cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, coriander seed (optional)

Toast peanuts in a pan until fragrant. Move them around constantly in the pan when toasting so that they don't burn.
Combine toasted peanuts, coconut milk, chillies, garlic, salt and sugar in a blender or food processor and blitz until it forms a mostly smooth mixture (I like mine with a slight hint of chunkiness).
Transfer to a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce is thoroughly warm and the flavours are coming together beautifully. If it becomes too thick, add a little more water or coconut milk.
Add lime juice and spices to taste, if using. Remove from heat and it's ready for consumption!

*The chillies I used are moderately spicy. Adjust the amount of chillies you use according to their individual spiciness, and personal preference. You may also tone down the heat by removing their seeds before using.

Use this peanut sauce to dress up your salads, splash it into stir-fries, or enjoy it as a dip or marinade. Store any leftover peanut sauce in a covered container in the fridge. It should keep for at least two days. The sauce will thicken and solidify in the fridge, but this is easily remedied by warming it up again and adding a little more water if necessary.

I paired this peanut sauce with a haphazard assortment of blanched vegetables (bean sprouts, cabbage, long beans, baby spinach, bok choy), fried tofu and boiled eggs to create a not-quite-but-almost-traditional version of gado-gado, a delicious salad famous in Indonesia. I ate this on Friday. I ate more on Saturday. I wish I could tell you I ate it today, too, but regrettably, it was all gone. Devoured. Finito. So here I am, reminiscing about my wonderfully nutty weekend, and sharing this blog post with you. Enjoy.

a creamy southeast asian peanut sauce dressing - goes beautifully with salads like gado-gado.


  1. I like the idea of adding cinnamon & ginger. My usual recipe uses steamed chilli and peanut butter. I will give this version a go!

  2. Oh, tell me what you think afterwards, Foodycat!

  3. Sounds delicious. And yeah, peanut sauce IS good. I want some now :)

  4. You know, I've been looking for a good peanut sauce recipe for some salads I've had on the brain. I'd love to try yours! Too many I've seen use peanut butter, which just doesn't seem right.

  5. Thanks Joyti!

    Yasmeen, do let me know if you try it! This is still really quick and easy to make even without the shortcut of using peanut butter. Plus you get the satisfaction of making it from scratch!

  6. This sounds amazing! My next salad will wear this!!

  7. it looks awesome....really delicious that I feel like making a bowl of it sure got me craving :)

  8. Hi Leaf,
    I am from Indonesia originally and if anyone ask me what to eat for my last meal on earth, it would be Gado-Gado. Of course, all my Indonesian friends think I am so-uncool. But it's the food that I am very fond of to the bottom of my heart. To be honest, I'm still yet to master the ultimate Gado-gado (or any Indonesian cuisine for that matter).

    As for your peanut sauce, it looks more like a thai/malaysian version. Either ways, like my ex said, nothing is ever bad when you add peanuts in them! Hahaha.

    Ow yea, this is my old gado2 post:

  9. No way PFx! There's nothing uncool about loving gado gado.

    I'm from Malaysia originally so I guess my peanut sauce reflects that. ;)

    Thanks for sharing your gado gado post! Great stuff. :D

  10. loving the flavor combo .. would love some now!

  11. I can imagiine having this with ramen!!!

  12. ♥ •˚。
    Deve ser delicioso... com todos esses temperos associados ao amendoim...
    Bom fim de semana!

    ♥ •˚。
    °° 。♥。
    ●/ ♥•˚。˚
    / \ 。˚。♥

  13. Considering my obsession with anything peanut/nut butter related, I can't believe I've never made a proper peanut sauce! Love how simple yet delicious yours looks :) Must try soon!

  14. I love peanut sauce, especially with my fave chicken satays :)

  15. The sauce sounds just so tasty, I don't use peanuts or peanut butter much at all, but I'd be keen to try this one!

  16. All I can think of is Satay!! Yum!

  17. Just days ago, I was having satay. This peanut sauce should have been right there!

  18. love peanut sauce! the singaporean/malaysian version is a lot chunkier and uses tamarind juice and the coconut milk is optional. slightly different taste profile to it, but i love it so much! I'll give this version a try definitely! yum.

  19. I love peanut sauce. I always am heavy handed with the chili peppers! It's great on noodles as well.

  20. I like the simplicity of your list of ingredients. I made the sauce for gado gado once but I was so concerned with the impossibly long list of ingredients that in the end I forgot the tamarind, ruining pretty much the whole thing.. Although I ate it just the same, because indeed, nothing is bad with peanuts :)


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