Satay sauce is one of those classic sauces that can taste fabulous in so many dishes. This is not good news for people with a peanut allergy, as the star ingredient is peanuts. Definitely off the menu!
We have a peanut allergy in our household, which means it’s a good 15 years or so since we have even thought about satay as an option. You can read our family’s allergy story in this post here. Fortunately, I’ve been working on a secret weapon here, a delicious and versatile satay sauce which is NUT FREE! That’s right, no nuts at all, but still with a “nutty” taste and a satisfying depth of flavour.
Inspired by an authentic Indonesian style peanut sauce
I was inspired by my memories of a cooking class I went to in Bali, Indonesia, over 20 years ago. They showed us there how to make an authentic Indonesian style peanut sauce (satay) from scratch. I used my notes from this class as inspiration for my version of the sauce. Some changes were necessary – I used fresh ginger instead of lesser galangal (a bit hard to find in my local shops!) and I replaced the original lime leaves with lime juice. Some changes were optional – I didn’t add any sugar on top of the already sweet kecap manis.
Kecap manis is an Indonesian style sweet soy based sauce. If you can’t find, or can’t have, the kecap manis, replace it in the recipe with 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or gluten free soy / tamari) and ½ tablespoon brown sugar or alternative sweetener.
Searching for that real satay flavour
I know there are short cut versions of nut free satay out there, using ingredients like sunflower seed butter and coconut milk. I wanted to make my nut free satay as close to authentic as (realistically) possible, just without the peanuts.That’s why this recipe includes things like:
- Toasting the coconut
- Using fresh garlic, ginger and chilli
- Frying the seeds
This recipe will give you approx 250ml of a tasty sauce with lots of flavour. One thing to keep in mind – if you have younger kids they might be happier with a milder tasting sauce. To cater for them you could go easy on the ginger and chilli, and perhaps add a little more water or coconut water as you blend the ingredients.
My recipe for a delicious nut free satay sauce
Now you have the sauce you can use it to spice up any number of amazing dishes. We’ve tried it with satay kebabs using chicken thigh fillet pieces. I added a little extra water to the sauce to make it a more workable consistency for a marinade. After marinating the kebabs in the sauce for a few hours, they were delicious cooked on the BBQ.
Satay sauce is a feature of the classic Indonesian salad Gado Gado. Gado Gado is a satisfying meal in itself made up of a mixture of some cooked and some raw fresh vegetables on a platter with hard boiled eggs and sprouts. Dollop heavily with the satay sauce to complete the dish. I used all 250ml of the sauce from the recipe on the salad in the photo.
I have to say I was really happy to find a nut free satay sauce that tastes every bit as delicious as the original version with the peanuts. This sauce fits with my food allergy mantra very well: “there’s always an alternative”, and now our peanut free household has a tasty alternative to satay sauce.