A good satay sauce is elusive. At least outside of Indonesia. There are plenty of quick fixes, ersatz offerings and peanut butter cheats. They may have their merits but have not earned mine. I want a Nigella moment, a spoon dunked into a jar of tanned coloured paste and licked clean. And this one, from Plenty, did beckon. Again and again.
Like a supporting actor who carries the movie and gives depth to the lead, this satay sauce makes the Gado Gado. (I am tickled pink by its name!) Salad is probably a very loose term for this substantial recipe. Without question the sauce, though not difficult, is involved. At the end what you get is a THAT fullness of flavour of a good satay sauce. Sweet, with heat but not too much, tart from the tamarind, aromatic from the citrusy lemongrass and pungent galangal, earthiness from the peanuts, all bound, tempered and brought together by the coconut milk to create a balanced, flavourful, finger licking pot of deliciousness. And it’s versatile enough for you to change the balance to suit your palate. I worked the recipe to the letter, but at the end added extra tamarind for that deep tang as well as more Sambal oelek for its heat. The quantity this yields is generous. So consider chicken marinated and barbecued or grilled, or tender strips of beef on skewers with this as a dipping sauce. Or look no further than potato chips. You know that’s going to be good.
This sauce could make anything ugly taste good. I used those ingredients I had to hand and omitted those I didn’t. You wouldn’t think a salad of boiled tatties (tinted gold in the turmeric water), green beans, beansprouts and eggs could really amount to something sensational. TheScotsman, long after cleaning his plate of his second helping, continued to pick, dunk and eat the few remaining stragglers on the platter. He does not usually do that. And lets face it, anything that can sexy up vegetables that does not involve cheese, is a good ‘un in my book.
So while you contemplate your newfound need to make this recipe, I shall be browsing ticket prices to Indonesia. There is a Gado Gado there with my name on it.