Introduction: Sri Lanka Satay Sauce - Asian BBQ Sauce

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Satay Sauce is easy to make. Whether cooked or merely mixed, it is delicious and a summertime savory for sure. Assembling the ingredients will require a trip to you favorite Asian market or a gourmet retailer stocking these ingredients. To my way of thinking, any of the pictured ingredients can be substituted for the same ingredient. I'm not plugging brands here. It's what I have available locally to me.

Some of you will want to go easy on the hot sauce or chile flakes. Others will like it spicier. If you are having a party, I suggest making the batch, dividing the portions into one bowl of hot, one bowl of mild, asking each diner for their heat tolerance. This sauce is a dip for grilled meats, fish (especially shrimp), or even raw vegetables. Yasss, even tofu. This is finger food. Serve with lime wedges and paper napkins for a summertime outdoor picnic or party.

Ingredients are listed but adjust the OPTIONAL ones to suit your taste. This recipe is an outline, not a hard-and-fast rule. And please know that all written recipes are theorems. Experimenting is a good thing with food. Mix and match until you find the ratio and proportions you like. I will give a broad outline in the next step.

Step 1: How to Make Authentic Style Satay Sauce

Buy some meat, poultry, fish, tofu and vegetables.

In a 4 cup bowl, measure out and add to the bowl any or all of the following:


One 13.5 ounce can of coconut milk (or coconut cream if you can find it)

4 tablespoons of red curry paste (in the USA this is typically available in small cans or jars, imported from Thailand)

3/4 cup or a little more of peanut butter (smooth or crunchy - your choice).

2 tablespoons of coconut vinegar (if available) or malt vinegar (readily available).


1 teaspoon Worcestershire (skip if using malt vinegar) or additionally with the malt vinegar, to taste.

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut shreds.

1 small onion, chopped, if you are feeling lazy, otherwise, food process the onion for it's liquid and add 2 tablespoons of strained onion juice.

3 cloves of garlic, mashed to a pulp.

1 to 2 teaspoons of ginger, mashed to a pulp, also known as grated ginger.

1/2 teaspoon turmeric (adds an earthy note and good color).

2 teaspoon ground cumin (Cumin goes well with grilled meats).

1 teaspoon red chile (chili, chilli, chille - choose your own nations spelling here) flakes.

or 1 tsp. liquid hot sauce (I like Cholula or Frank's, Tabasco is too vinegary).

4 tablespoons of Oyster Sauce. OR

4 tablespoons of Fish Sauce. (Be careful using both here, as they are a salty addition)

2 teaspoons Kaffir lime juice (If you can't stand lime juice, try orange juice).

6 tablespoons date palm sugar (or any brown or golden brown sugar).

2 teaspoons of peanut or Chinese sesame oil.

1 tablespoon of honey or Chinese Maltose.

Do you have your satay sauce mixed? Taste for salt. If it is not salty enough, add some. Or if the sauce is too thick, add some kecap manis or sweetened soy sauce, or more vinegar or lime juice. Again, personal preference is the secret ingredient here.

If you want to keep this sauce, put it on the stove and bring it to a simmer for 10 minutes. Stir to prevent scorching or the solids from burning. When simmered for 10 minutes, cover, remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Transfer to a container and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before use.

Step 2: Grilling Foods for Use With Authentic Satay Sauce

Fire up your grill. Put your foods on skewers. If you are using bamboo, pre-soak them in water for 30 minutes. Using latex (Nitrile) gloves, thread the food onto the skewers. Grill beef about 2 ½ minutes per side. Chicken takes 3 ½ minutes per side, Fish is 2 minutes per side, vegetables until they develop grill marks, and tofu you are on your own. No, seriously, as tofu can be eaten raw, it can be grilled as you like it. Either with or without grill marks. Watch your timing on the tofu.

Serve each diner a small bowl of sauce (remember Seinfeld, no double dipping) and a plate of skewers.

Wait for the applause.

Step 3: Ingredients Used in Making Authentic Asian Satay Sauce.

Here are some pictures of ingredients typically available throughout the USA for making this fabulous flavor.