Kuah Kacang Melaka, a Sweet-and-Sour Peanut Sauce
Ingredients
Directions
Ingredients
5 lb
shallots, peeled and sliced
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1 oz
dried chiles
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3
stalks lemongrass (bottom 1/3 of stalks only, with 2-3 outer layers removed)
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1
2-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled
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1
2-inch knob fresh galangal, peeled (optional)
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1
1-inch knob fresh turmeric, peeled (or 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered turmeric)
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½ c
neutral oil
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½ c
sugar (adjust this measurement to increase or decrease overall spiciness)
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1 tsp
salt
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1 c
tamarind juice*
Today, it is easy to buy tamarind juice in a bottle or can, but it is still best to extract it from a block of tamarind paste, as it allows for better control of concentration. You can find this in most Asian supermarkets sold in 14-ounce blocks; I prefer to buy the seedless blocks, as you tend to get more pulp. To produce 1 cup of tamarind juice, you will need about ½ a block of paste. Break the paste into smaller pieces and cover with 1¼ cup warm water, letting it sit for 30 minutes. Using your hands, mash the softened paste into a slurry. Using a medium fine strainer, strain the slurry till you have about 1 cup of pure tamarind juice and all that is left is pulp and seed in the strainer. Discard the pulp. The juice can be stored in the fridge for about a week or two if properly covered.
*Show Note
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2 c
fresh pineapple, puréed
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1 c
roasted peanuts, ground
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3 c
water
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Kuah Kacang Melaka, a Sweet-and-Sour Peanut Sauce

The deep, savory personality of Melaka-style saté finds its sweet-and-sour match in this variation on Malaysian peanut sauce. In the motherland, this is often prepared with belimbing, the tart starfruit common in Southeast Asian cooking; pineapple serves as a more accessible replacement in the States.

Also see: The Art of Malaysian Grilled Meat on a Stick

10 Serves

  1. In a blender, combine shallots, chiles, lemongrass, ginger, galangal, and oil, then blend into a thick paste.
  2. Combine paste and salt in a large pot—oil tends to splatter during the cooking process of this sauce, so a high-walled vessel will help prevent a big mess. Cook mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the oil begins separating from the solids, about 15 minutes. Take note of the fragrances you’re extracting—you should get the light aroma of shallot, ginger, and chili as the color of the oil turns bright red. This oil, infused with the flavorful essence of the spice paste, is an important indicator of a properly made kuah kacang.
  3. Add sugar to the pot, slowly caramelizing to turn the contents of the pot a dark red hue.
  4. Add tamarind juice, pineapple puree, peanuts, and water to the pot. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 30 minutes. The sauce should reduce, thickening to a gravy-like consistency.
  5. Let the sauce rest for 1 hour uncovered to allow the flavors to come together. The red oil will float to the top. Stir it back into the gravy while reheating it over medium heat before it is served.

Drew Lazor

A Philadelphia-based food and drink writer, Drew Lazor has contributed to Bon Appétit, Condé Nast Traveler, Lucky Peach, The Philadelphia Inquirer, PUNCH, Saveur, and Serious Eats.