Bumbu Kacang

Indonesian Peanut Sauce

by Leslie Wagner

One of the main characteristics of Indonesian cuisine is the wide applications of ‘bumbu kacang,’ commonly known as peanut sauce in many signature dishes like satay, gado-gado, ketoprak, rujak, pecel and more. It’s used as a dip, dressing, or drizzle for various ingredients, including meat, veggies, and even dumplings. The consistency of the peanut sauce is smooth and velvety with a hint of graininess from crushed peanuts. It’s spiciness can vary but usually complements the dish well.

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Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )


2 tablespoons vegetable oil (enough to coat the peanuts)
1 cup raw, skinless peanuts
1 1/2 cups water
2 Makrut lime leaves (optional)
1 tablespoon tamarind pulp*
3 tablespoons coconut palm sugar
salt to taste
sweet soy sauce to taste
1 Thai chili, sauteed, if desired


Peanut Prep

  1. Heat oil in a large wok over medium heat. Add peanuts and cook until golden brown, 4 - 6 minutes, stirring continuously to avoid burning.
  2. Remove the golden-brown peanuts with slotted spoon, placing them on a paper towel-lined plate to cool. Discard any burnt peanuts.
  3. Grind cooled peanuts in a food processor or pulverize them with a mortar and pestle until the resemble coarse sand.

To Make the Sauce

  1. In a saucepan, combine the water, lime leaves, tamarind, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes, breaking up the tamarind pulp.
  2. Remove the lime leaves and tamarind chunks.
  3. Add ground peanuts, then simmer until the sauce is thick and creamy like gravy, 8 - 10 minutes, stirring often so the sauce doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot.
  4. Remove from heat, stir in sweet soy sauce and Thai Chili (if desired). Adjust seasonings for taste and acidity.

To Serve

  1. Serve the peanut sauce with salad vegetables or as a dipping sauce for grilled kebabs, satay skewers, etc.
  2. Sauce can be refrigerated for up to one week. Reheat with a bit of water if too thick, either on the stove or in the microwave.


Recipe by Chef Rie Sims, Warung Rierie, San Diego, Calif. * can substitute 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed makrut lime juice if tamarind pulp in unavailable

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