Indonesian cuisine was influenced by traders from India, the Middle East, China, and, later, Spain and Portugal. The Dutch, who colonized many of the 6,000 islands that make up Indonesia, adapted the buffet eating style of the native peoples, into the famous rijstaffel (or rice table). Sambals and tempeh, an adaptation of tofu, also originated in Indonesia.
Makes about 280 ml / 1/2 pint / 1-1/4 cups of sauce
This is the best-known, most popular sauce for satay. It is also used for gado-gado, and goes well with any grilled meat.
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.
112 ml / 4 fl oz / 1/2 cup vegetable oil
225 g / 8 oz / 1-1/3 cups raw peanuts
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 shallots, chopped
A thin slice of shrimp paste (optional)
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
450 ml / 16 fl oz / 2 cups water
1 tbsp tamarind water or juice of a lemon
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 lalab (crudites) or savoury snacks. The sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Indonesian Regional Cooking
By Sri Owen
St. Martin's Press, 1995
288 Pages, with 50 line illustrations
Reprinted with permission
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This page modified January 2007
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