Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Something Savoury: Peanut Satay Sauce (Gluten-, Dairy-, and Egg Free)

After a weekend of St Patrick's excess, I think we all need a good meal. So here's another savoury dish for you all: peanut satay sauce!

In Limerick there is a popular Asian fusion takeaway chain called Wokking, which sells cheap and cheerful Westernised gloop for under a tenner a piece. The one in the city centre is painted luminous orange, and plays exclusively chart tunes on the radio. When you order your food, you get a little piece of paper with your order number on it, and wait at your table until the number is shouted at you in a wonderful local twang.

One of the most popular orders is a "3-in-1": usually it comprises of fried rice, chips, and curry sauce. However, you can have a combination of two of the side dishes--boiled rice, fried rice, chips, or fried noodles--and a serving of curry sauce, sweet and sour sauce, satay sauce, or black bean sauce. For an extra euro or euro-fifty, you can add some meat and make it a "4-in-1".

Whenever I go to Wokking, I usually order a 4-in-1 of satay chicken with boiled rice and fried noodles. I love the combination of the chewy noodles, the soft rice, and the sweetly salty peanut sauce slopped all over some oddly wiggly chicken breast strips. It's delicious!

I have read many, many recipes online about making satay sauce, but for years I could never quite find the right one. They all used coconut milk, which is nothing like the Chinese takeaway satay. Eventually, I gave up.

Then I went to have dinner at the home of a Dutch friend, and she prepared some satay meatballs, which tasted even better than my favourite takeaway satay sauce: it was utterly scrumptious! I asked her for the recipe, and she willingly supplied it, but it contained some Dutch ingredients that I had never come across before. Apparently, as a result of Holland's colonial relationship with Indonesia, Dutch people use a lot of Indonesian ingredients in their cookery, including ketjap manis and sambal oelek.

I took to the internet and did some research about how to approximate the Dutch ingredients. I also cross referenced a few already existing recipes for Dutch style satay meatballs. Turns out, my prior research had been too focused on actual Indonesian and Malaysian satay, and not its Western approximation.

The following recipe is one that I have formulated after a serious amount of trial and error. It can be altered in accordance to taste: add more salt, sugar, soy sauce, or vinegar according to your liking. This is just how I like it done.

To serve 3 people, or 2 hungry people

For the sauce,
  • 1 tablespoon (15 millilitres) dark soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons (15 grammes) brown sugar, dark or light, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons (30 millilitres) peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
  • ¼ teaspoon chinese five spice powder
  • ½ teaspoon hot chilli powder
  • 1 inch (2 centimetres) peeled ginger root
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • Half an Imperial pint (1 cups, 285 millilitres) water
  • ¾ pound (350 grammes) meat or alternative of your choice, cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon (15 millilitres) cornflour
  • Oil, for frying
  • Optional: chopped mixed vegetables, such as red onion, pepper, or baby corn
To make fried noodles
  • Dry fine egg noodles, or gluten free noodles, enough for two or three people
  • Sesame oil, for tossing, or flavourless oil
  • 2 teaspoons (10 millilitres) dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) white vinegar
  • Finely sliced coriander, to garnish


First, prepare the sauce
  • Finely chop or grate the ginger and garlic, and in a small bowl or cup mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, peanut butter, five spice, and chili powder to make a paste.
  • Heat about a tablespoon (15 millilitres) of oil in a medium saucepan, and gently fry the ginger and garlic until fragrant. If you are using vegetables, add them to the pot and stir fry for about 2 minutes. 
  • Add in the paste and cook until smooth, then add in the meat and cook until sealed on the outside. Pour over the water, and simmer for about 10 minutes to cook the meat through. (If you are using a vegetarian alternative, cook accordingly.)
  • Mix the cornflour with some water in a small bowl or glass to make a slurry, then add to the pot, stirring all the time. Bring to the boil and cook at a boil for a full 3 minutes.
  • Taste the sauce, and adjust for seasoning: I like my sauce quite salty, so I add more salt, but you may like to add more vinegar or more sugar. It's up to you!
Then, prepare the noodles,
  • In a large mixing bowl,pour hot water over the dry noodles and allow to stand for 30 seconds. Then, separate the noodles with two forks to prevent clumping.
  • Drain and rinse the softened noodles in cold water to further prevent clumping. Return to the bowl and toss in about a teaspoonful of sesame oil or flavourless oil.
  • In a small bowl or glass, mix together the soy sauce and vinegar and set aside.
  • Heat a large frying pan on a medium heat, and add the noodles to the pan dry. Fry until they start to go dry, and then pour in the sauce. Toss and stir with a fork to keep the noodles separated so they cook evenly.
  • Test the noodles: if they are too firm for your liking, add a splash of water and continue cooking.
  • Serve the noodles straight from the pan with the satay sauce and meat. If you like, you can serve with steamed white rice and steamed green vegetables.
No blogs on this day in 2014, 2015, or 2016
THIS TIME IN 2013: Wheat Flour Alternatives

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