Peanuts in Indonesia
About the industry
Health and nutrition
Common Indonesian peanut-based dishes include gado-gado, pecel, and karedok, all vegetable salads mixed with peanut sauce. Indonesia is famous for its peanut satay sauce.
- Gado Gado [Raw and cooked salad with peanut sauce]
- Karedok [Raw salad with peanut sauce]
- Pecel [Blanched vegetable and peanut salad]
- Sambal Kacang [peanut sauce]
- Batagor [Fried Tofu Meatball]
- Serundeng [Crisp spiced coconut with peanuts]
What makes gado-gado different from a typical vegetable salad is its peanut sauce dressing. This is poured on the vegetables in greater quantities than you would use of mayonnaise or vinaigrette.
Gado-gado is a very popular salad in Indonesia and has many regional variations. At its base though, it is composed of cooked and raw vegetables either topped or tossed with a peanut sauce. Gado-gado is an excellent addition to a buffet or rijsttafel.
The ingredients of the salad varies, but it usually comprises some mix of:
- Blanched - shredded, chopped, or sliced green vegetables (such as cabbageor kang-kung), mung bean sprouts, young boiled jack fruit, string beans, bitter melon and corn)
- Uncooked sliced cucumber and lettuce
- Fried tofu and tempeh
- Cubed boiled potatoes – 2
- Cucumbers, peeled, seeds removed, cut into half moons – 1
- Hard-boiled eggs, cut into wedges – 2-3
If these ingredients are not available, improvise and experiment. Try cauliflower, snow peas, spinach or other greens.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Have another large pot of cold water close by.
Add a cup of mung bean sprouts and boil them for 10-15 seconds.
Remove the sprouts from the water with a slotted spoon and plunge them into the cold water. Drain, squeeze dry and set aside.
Repeat this process with the carrots, green beans and potatoes (about a cup of each)
Lay the outer whole leaves of the Romaine lettuce on a large platter to form a base. Spread the shredded lettuce over the base.
Layer the blanched, drained vegetables over the shredded lettuce. Garnish the platter with the cucumbers wedges, tomatoes, egg and krupuk crackers.
Pour the sambal kacang (recipe below) over the vegetables and serve.
Peanut sauce dressing (sambal kacang)
The common primary ingredients for about 1½ cups of sauce are:
- Ground fried peanuts – 1 cup
- Coconut sugar, palm sugar or brown sugar – 1 tablespoon
- Chillies (according to taste)
- Fresh lime juice – two limes or one lemon
- Terasi (dried shrimp paste)
- Tamarind paste
- Water – 1 ½ cups
- Salt to taste
The vegetables can be all mixed together or served in separate little piles. The sauce can likewise be poured over all, mixed in or served in a bowl on the side for individual diners to dip into as they like.
In Jakarta gado-gado is served with some kind of cracker, usually tapioca crackers, or emping, a type of fried cracker. Elsewhere it might be served with rice or lontong, a rice cake wrapped in a banana leaf. It is usually served cold or at room temperature, but it is sometimes oven-heated a little before serving.
The firmer vegetables are usually blanched or steamed, but they can also be served raw.
Garnish with toasted sesame seeds or fried onions if you like.
Karedok is a raw vegetable salad from West Java. It is made from cucumbers, bean sprouts, cabbage, legumes, Thai basil and small green eggplant. It is similar to gado gado except all the vegetables are raw and it uses Thai basil and eggplant.
Pecel is a traditional meal from Madiun in East Java. It is made from vegetables and served with peanut sauce and warm rice. There are numerous versions of pecel.
- Bean sprouts, spinach, shredded cabbage
- 200 g peanut, peeled and fried (or you can use peanut butter)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 red chillies, seeded and fried
- 5 eye’s bird chillies, seeded and fried (you can add more if you wish to)
- 5 cm kencur (also known as kaempferia galangal), peel off the skin
- 1 tablespoon dried prawn paste (terasi)
- 7 kaffir lime leafs
- 2 tablespoon tamarind mixed and squeeze with 100 ml lukewarm water and drain
- 50 g palm sugar or more if you like more sweet taste
- 1 tsp sugar
- Fry garlic and the chillies. Set aside. And then grind or blend together with the rest of ingredients of spice paste. Add the fried peanut. Continue blending to make it smooth.
- Add some of warm water to make the sauce thicken.
- Cook all the vegetables. Set aside.
- Serve: Arrange the vegetables, and then pour with the peanut sauce. Serve with plain rice, crispy rice flour cracker (rempeyek), fried egg and cucumber.
Indonesia is the home of satay where is it known as sate (and pronounced similar to the English). The grilled meats skewered on coconut leaf spines or bamboo come in many variations that have evolved throughout the archipelago, many using peanut sauce. Some examples are: Sate Madura
from the island of Madura is made with mutton or chicken and sweet soy sauce and palm sugar with garlic, shallots, ground peanuts, shrimp paste, and candlenuts.Sate Padang
from Padang in West Sumatra uses cow or goat offal boiled in a spicy broth then grilled. The yellow sauce is made from rice flour mixed with offal broth, turmeric, ginger, garlic, coriander, galangal root, cumin, curry powder and salt. Sate Ponorogo
from the town of Ponorogo in East Java is made with marinated chicken and served with a peanut and chilli sauce and garnished with shredded shallots, sambal (chili paste) and lime juice. The satay is grilled over a terracotta oven.Sate Lilit
is from Bali and uses minced beef, chicken, fish, pork, or turtle meat, which is then mixed with grated coconut, thick coconut milk, lemon juice, shallots, and pepper. Wound around bamboo, sugar cane or lemon grass sticks, it is then grilled on charcoal.Sate Ampet
is a Lombok delicacy made beef and cow’s intestines and organs. The sauce is hot and spicy, which is no surprise given the island’s name, Lombok Merah, means red chili. The sauce uses coconut milk and spices.
Sate Maranggi is common in Purwakarta, Cianjur and Bandung, cities in West Java and made from marinated beef using flower buds and sweet rice flour. Nicola buds bring a unique aroma and a liquorice-like taste.
Sate Kambing (Goat satay) from Java is not usually pre-seasoned or pre-cooked. The meat is skewered and grilled directly on the charcoal then served with sweet soy sauce, sliced shallots, and tomatoes.
Sate Kerbau (Water buffalo satay) from Kudus is cooked first with palm sugar, coriander, cumin, and other seasonings until tender then grilled on charcoal and served on a plate covered with teak wood leaves.
Sate Burung Ayam-ayaman (Bird Satay) uses the gizzard, liver, and intestines of the burung ayam-ayaman (a migrating sea bird). After seasoning with mild spices and skewered, this bird’s internal organs aren’t grilled, but deep fried in cooking oil.
Sate Bandeng (Milkfish Satay) and Sate Belut (Eel Satay) are rarer delicacies. In sate bulut the small native eel is skewered and wrapped around each skewer then grilled over charcoal fire.
Other satays are made from horsemeat (Sate Kuda) soft-shelled turtles (Sate Bulus), snake or lizard meat (Sate Ular), pork (Sate Babi) and chicken skin (Sate Kulit). Sate Ati uses chicken liver, gizzard, and intestines.
In the weird and wonderful satay department is Sate Telor Muda made from the immature chicken still in its eggshell and Sate Torpedo (Testicles Satay) from marinated goat testicles eaten with peanut sauce and pickles.
Peanut Satay Sauce - Sambal Kacang [Indonesian peanut sauce]
This famous Indonesian peanut sauce is pronounced ‘sahm-bal kah-CHANG’ . Another name for it is bumbu satay. It is savory, spicy and slightly sweet. Serve it with satay, batagor or use in a less concentrated form for gado gado.
Ingredients (about 1 ½ cups)
- 2 cups of fresh shelled peanuts
- 6 tablespoons of oil
- 1 tablespoon tamarind paste (or 1½ tablespoons of pulp)
- ¾ cup water (substitute some coconut milk in desired)
- Soy sauce – 2 tablespoons
- Brown sugar – 1 tablespoon ( or to taste)
- Turmeric – ½ teaspoon (optional)
- Salt to taste
- 8 dried chillies soaked in warm water
- ½ to 1 teaspoon shrimp paste (optional)
- 2 stalks of lemon grass (use only bottom three inches)
- A teaspoon of thinly sliced galangal or ginger
- Juice of one lemon or two limes (optional)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- Soak the tamarind in two cups of water. Use only the juice, discard the pulp and seeds, if any.
- Without using any oil, roast the peanuts in a frying pan or wok over low heat until they are brown and fragrant. Allow them to cool before removing as much of the peanut skins as possible.
- Put the peanuts in a blender and whizz on a low setting until coarsely ground. Put aside.
- Remove the dried chillies from the water, cut the top off, remove the seeds and slice. Put all the ingredients for the spice paste into a blender and grind into a fine paste. If the ingredients are too dry and you have trouble grinding, add 1 Tbsp oil.
- Heat six tablespoons of oil on low heat in a pot. Sauté the spice paste until it turns and golden brown and fragrant.
- Add the ground peanut and the tamarind juice. Cook on low heat while stirring frequently so the sauce doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Add some water if the satay sauce becomes too thick and hard to stir.
- Cook for about 45 minutes or until a reddish chilli oil rises to the top of the pot. The satay sauce should have a rich, dark red color with a thick consistency.
Note: The amount of sugar specified in this recipe is only a guide. You can adjust it depending on your taste. The layer of oil can be removed after cooking without affecting the taste of the satay sauce.
If the sauce is not spicy enough, increase the amount of dried chillies. If you are already midway through the cooking, a shortcut method is to soak the extra dried chillies in hot water. After five minutes, cut the tops off, remove the seeds and cut into tiny slices. Add them to the satay sauce in the pot and simmer for at least 15 minutes. Another shortcut is to use fresh chillies.
Cook a bigger portion of satay sauce for later use. It keeps well in an airtight container for two months in the freezer.
Batagor is a famous snack from Bandung, a city of West Java. It is made from white tofu filled with mixture of mackerel, chicken or prawn then deep fried and served with peanut sauce, sweet soy sauce and sprinkled with lime juice.
- 6 tahu/white tofu
- 250 g boneless minced chicken breast or mackerel fish
- 1 spring onion and 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- ½ tablespoon ground pepper and salt to taste
- 8 tablespoons tapioca flour
- tablespoons sesame oil
- 100g all purpose flour, water and salt
Peanut Sauce [link back to recipe above]
- Mix all the basic ingredients to make a filling.
- Cut tofu in half and make a hole in the middle and fill it with the filling.
- Steam the tofu for about 15 minutes.
- Mix the flour water and salt to make a batter, then coat the tofu with it and deep fry until it turns golden brown.
- Make the sauce by grinding and blending all the ingredients (except water) to make a paste. Add the water and cook on a low heat and keep stirring it until the sauce is thick.
- Halve the fried tofu, and then pour over the peanut sauce.
- Sprinkle with sweet soy sauce and lime juice and add chilli sauce if you wish.
Serundeng is great as a snack and also very delicious as a side dish to a rice or noodle dish. Ingredients
- ½ cup desiccated coconut, unsweetened
- ½ teaspoon instant minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
- ½ teaspoon dried coriander
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup roasted unsalted peanuts
- Using a dry frypan over medium-low heat toast the coconut, garlic and onion flakes, crushing the onion flakes.
- Toast until all are golden.
- Add coriander, cumin and salt, stir well and remove from heat, cool.
- Stir in the peanuts.