We’ve always considered ourselves Vegan Peanut Sauce Enthusiasts. But ever since we made 4 different types of Indonesian peanut sauce in one week to cover on VeganEvergreens (and especially since we ate all the leftovers in the days in between), we consider this statement evidence-based.
Jokingly we called this week of making and eating lots and lots of peanut sauce our Vegan Peanut Sauce Challenge. The challenge in practice turning out to be mostly delayed to the week after: why oh whyyyy is there no peanut sauce on my plate anymore? *sad eyes*
Because even though by the end of the week our bodies consisted of 80% peanut sauce, the other 20% consisted of pure food happiness. True story.
Making your own vegan peanut sauce is … peanuts
Ever since the invention of peanut-butter-in-a-jar, making peanut sauce is ridiculously easy. You don’t need any kind of special kitchen equipment like powerful food processors and that sort of thing. And most importantly: peanut sauce recipes are either already vegan ór very easy to veganize.
We would recommend using a 100% peanuts type of peanut butter, like Whole Earth. Which can be quite expensive, but since pure peanut butter is getting more and more common your local supermarket might even surprise you with a very affordable store brand. Or even better: order online in big quantities <3.
Indonesia: The Queen of Peanut Sauce
Who made Indonesia the Queen of Peanut Sauce? Well, we did. Just now.
There are multiple countries that have traditional peanut sauce dishes on the menu. To name a few: Singapore, Suriname and Malaysia. All influenced by each other of course. But there is one country that in our humble opinion really rocks the vegan peanut sauce. And that country is Indonesia.
During our Vegan Peanut Sauce Challenge, we made 4 types of traditional peanut sauce dishes from Indonesia. All plant-based.
Gado Gado is probably the most famous Indonesian peanut sauce dish in this list. Maybe because it is one of the five national dishes of Indonesia: or is it the fame that made it into Indonesia’s peanut sauce official?
Whatever the case, Gado Gado is a blanched or steamed vegetable salad with boiled potatoes and fried tempeh or tofu. It often comes with half a boiled egg on top, so if you’re going vegan and ordering it somewhere, don’t forget to ask the chef to leave the egg.
The primary ingredients of Gado Gado peanut dressing are peanuts, palm sugar, chilies, coconut milk and tamarind juice.
You can pick whatever type of veggies you like, but a classic Gado Gado mix at least contains some type of green beans, potatoes, cabbage and bean sprouts, and has some raw cucumber on the side.
Pecel is practically the same dish as Gado Gado: it is also a mix of blanched vegetables with a big scoop of peanut sauce on top. The difference is in the peanut sauce. And it is exactly this difference in peanut sauce that makes Pecel our personal favorite Indonesian peanut sauce dish.
When making the peanut sauce that goes with Pecel, you leave out the coconut milk that is common in the Gado Gado peanut dressing and makes for a mild taste. Instead you use Galangal (a root related to Ginger) to spice up the sauce. Very yummy!
Check out the full recipe for Pecel
What makes Karedok different from the other 3 Indonesian peanut sauce dishes, is that the vegetables are not blanched or steamed, but served raw. It is therefore also referred to as raw Gado Gado.
Nowadays you can find many variations of Karedok with different types of meat. But the traditional version of the dish still only includes cucumber, bean sprouts, cabbage, legumes, Thai sweet basil and small green eggplant.
RAW eggplant? Is it OK to eat raw eggplant? You might wonder. As did we. But it is. And it tastes surprisingly OK as well.
Check out the full recipe for Karedok
With Ketoprak we’re already down to the last traditional Indonesian peanut sauce dish on this list. The key ingredient of Ketoprak peanut sauce is kecap manis. Kecap manis is what sets the peanut sauce in Ketoprak apart from the ones in Pecel, Karedok and Gado Gado.
Other than kecap manis, Ketoprak peanut sauce contains peanuts and palm sugar, made into a thick paste. Garlic, chili and salt are used to add a bit more flavor. The peanut sauce is mixed with the blanched vegetables for serving. Probably because it’s frowned upon to just spoon the peanut sauce.