Monday, October 22, 2007

Easy Peasy Kuah Kacang (Peanut Sauce)

I hope you guys weren't holding your breath waiting for this. Here's the post on the peanut sauce.

Kuah Kacang (coo-ah car-chunk, Kuah=Sauce, kacang=peanuts) is Peanut Sauce in malay.
There are many versions of this recipe, ranging from throw-everything-in-the-pot-easy to roast-or-saute-each-exotic-ingredient-complicated (which is not really that complicated, actually). My version is like just half a notch up the former in the difficulty scale, simply because I don't like the taste of raw onions/shallots.

Easy Peasy Kuah Kacang

1 cup roasted peanuts (ground to your preferred texture)
5-8 shallots
2-3 garlic pips
5-10 dried chillies (boiled to rehydrate and soften)
1 - 2 cups coconut milk (depends on how creamy and how thick you want the sauce to be)
3-4 tablespoons palm sugar (can be substituted with brown sugar or combination of brown sugar and mollasses)
a few tablespoons of oil for sauteing
salt to taste
one stalk lemongrass (optional, but makes a world of a difference)
optional: 3 shallots and one garlic, thinly sliced and fried till brown, crispy and fragrant)

Ground shallots, garlic and dried chillies to a fine paste.
Saute paste in oil till fragrant and a thin film of oil rises to the top.
Add in the coconut milk, ground peanuts and palm sugar. If using lemongrass, break with the back of a knife and add to pot.
Bring to a boil and let simmer, stirring ocassionally, till a thin film of oil form on the surface. Taste and season to your liking.
Optional : before serving, sprinkle crispy fried shallots and garlic on top

Kuah kacang, served with rice cakes and spicy beef floss

This sauce goes really well with rice cakes, as a dip for raw crunchy vegetables like cucumbers, carrots and onions, savoury fritters and fish/seafood crackers or even fried firm tofu, and also on grilled or barbecued meats.

Okay as usual, side notes:
. I used salted dry roasted peanuts (the kind you find at the junkfood section), so I usually taste the sauce before deciding whether it needs more salt. You can also use honey roasted peanuts, which means you can use less palm sugar.
. Brown sugar + mollasses (2 parts to 1) is the closest substitute to palm sugar that I've discovered. It creates the same sweet earthy flavour.
. I have known people who have substituted the whole peanuts+palm sugar combo with chunky peanut butter.
. Speaking of texture, I like my peanut sauce to have chunky bits in them, so I use my mortar+pestle instead of the food processor to get varying degrees of fineness in my ground peanuts. Finely ground peanuts also acts as a thickener to the sauce.
. Since I was cooking for kids, I removed the seeds from my dried chillies, and didnt use as much as other people would. You could adjust the spiciness to your liking.
. I have never tried substituting the dried chillies with chilli/chipotle powder, but I guess you could if you wanted to. (Tell me if this works :) )
. I like my peanut sauce to be slightly runny, so I use a lot of coconut milk. You can use less or thicker coconut milk to make a thick sauce with more body, or use more finely ground peanuts.
. You wont believe what a stalk of lemongrass can do to your peanut sauce! Another good addition is one or two pieces of kaffir lime leaves - the fragrance will bowl you over.
. I really like biting into crunchy bits of crispy fried shallots or garlic in my peanut sauce especially if I'm eating it with satay (Malaysian grilled skewered meat), but if you're not sure, put it on the side and decide later.

Happy Trying, and tell me how yours turn out!


  1. Just the recipe I was looking for Kak Elisa! :-) as usual, ur Easy Peasy series is very inspiring for lazycooks like moi! I must try to make this though, becoz it's my hub's fave..

    Selamat Hari Raya to u and your family!

  2. Well, tell me how yours turn out! (and if your hubby suka ;) )

  3. This "Kuah Satay" has many other applications -e.g. for Gado-Gado.
    Big hugs.

  4. oh yes, I forgot about that.
    Also the Indonesians usually add some cekur (I dont know the english or scientific name for this ingredient) in their peanut sauce, especially when served with Batagor. yums!