I don’t remember when I first tasted Thai peanut sauce, but I know for sure that I have been obsessed with it since childhood. It’s a top contender for my desert island food. I mean, what better to have on your desert island than a sauce that could make sea kelp or even sand taste delicious? It’s salty, sweet, savory, and a little (or a lot, up to you. I like a lot!) spicy. Nutty peanut butter, simmered with creamy coconut milk, a touch of brown sugar, a splash of lime, and a dollop of a complex Thai curry paste. I could seriously eat it on just about anything. Or on nothing at all, just straight from the pot with a spoon (I actually do this. A lot.)
A while back, I asked my Thai friend Tew, to teach me how to make a really good Thai peanut sauce at home. Her recipe was amazing, but in all honesty, was a bit too fussy for me to make as a regular thing. First off, it required several specialty ingredients that I had to go to various special markets to find. Second, it required a somewhat tedious process of soaking tamarind pulp, removing the seeds, and pushing it through a fine-meshed sieve to strain it. The second problem can be solved by finding tamarind paste (which is different from tamarind concentrate), but, again, I had to go to a yet another special market to get this.
And so, because I am lazy and because I love Thai peanut sauce as much as I do, I modified Tew’s recipe. My recipe substitutes lime juice for tamarind. I also substitute brown sugar for palm sugar. I also use a store-bought all-natural (no sugar added) creamy peanut butter (It’s funny to note that I left this key ingredient out of the above ingredients picture!)
The curry paste (pictured above) is what gives the sauce the same distinctive flavor I know from my favorite Thai restaurants, though. So even though I have to seek this ingredient out either at a Thai market or online, I still use the kang kua curry paste Tew recommended (you could substitute another Thai curry paste if this one proves to hard to find).
While it isn’t totally authentic, my Thai peanut sauce is still delicious. With my modifications, it takes only a few minutes to make. It is delicious on chicken satay, beef satay, or marinated grilled tofu, or as you see it here, on a gado gado style salad of steamed and raw vegetables and hard-cooked egg (in these photos, I’ve got raw carrots, sliced radishes, and shredded romaine lettuce plus boiled eggs, potatoes, and green beans). I can also assure you that it is delicious eaten straight from the pot with a spoon.Print
If you’re like me and can’t get enough Thai Peanut Sauce, this recipe just might rock your world. It’s quick and easy to make and so freaking delicious! Kang Kua Curry Paste is available at Thai markets, some Asian markets, or online. If you don’t have it, you can substitute another Thai curry paste. The flavor will be different, but still delicious. Keep in mind that curry pastes vary a lot in terms of spiciness level, so you may want to use more or less of it if you are using something other than the kang kua paste.
- 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk, divided
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 ½ tablespoons kang kua curry paste (or other Thai curry paste, see note above)
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- Juice of 1 lime
- In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine the thick creamy part of the coconut milk that rises to the top of the can with the curry paste and heat, stirring, until the curry paste is dissolved.
- Add the remaining peanut butter, brown sugar, water, and fish sauce and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture thickens a bit, about 5 minutes (the mixture will thicken more as it cools). Stir in the lime juice.
- Remove from the heat and serve immediately or cool and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.