Peanut sauce is an Indonesian sauce made from ground roasted or fried peanuts, widely used in different cuisines around the world. Peanut sauce is also called satay sauce, bumbu kacang, sambal kacang, or pecel.
There’s a popular Southeast Asian dish called satay, which is seasoned, skewered and grilled meat served with peanut sauce. This dish is the reason peanut sauce is also called satay sauce.
Since peanut sauce can often be used to add flavor to grilled skewered meat, it’s not easy to know whether it’s suitable for vegans.
Is Peanut Sauce Vegan?
Peanut sauce is made with ground roasted peanuts, and while several different recipes exist, most of them will include only vegan ingredients.
A typical peanut sauce recipe contains ground roasted peanuts or peanut butter (smooth or crunchy), coconut milk, soy sauce, tamarind, galangal, garlic, and spices (such as coriander seed or cumin). Therefore, it’s suitable for vegans.
Other potential ingredients you may find are chili peppers, sugar, fried onion, and lemongrass, all of which are derived from plants as well.
Can Peanut Sauce Have Non-Vegan Ingredients?
No, peanut sauce tends to be naturally vegan, and unless we’re referring to a drastically modified recipe, I don’t think you’re likely to come across a non-vegan peanut sauce.
An option would be to swap the coconut milk with dairy milk, but I don’t believe they would do that in a traditional Asian restaurant. However, if you’re a bit skeptical, you can always inquire about the ingredients they’ve used to create their peanut sauce.
Some countries (such as the ones in Eastern Europe where I’m currently living) don’t seem to be that big on using dairy alternatives, particularly outside the cities, so it’s possible that if you come across a peanut sauce you may find one made with dairy ingredients.
Some people also question whether or not peanut sauce might contain fish sauce, and the truth is that you can find some homemade recipes online that use fish sauce, particularly because it gives the sauce an umami edge that sets their recipe apart from the traditional peanut sauce (sans fish sauce). Some homemade recipes might also use honey as an ingredient, but that isn’t common in restaurants.
However, in the majority of the cases, the peanut sauce doesn’t contain any animal ingredients.
Does Peanut Sauce Have Gluten? What About Soy?
Unfortunately, peanut sauce is made with soy sauce, which is not only made of soybeans, but you’ll also find ingredients such as wheat, which means that peanut sauce is not gluten-free.
However, it’s also worth noting that some soy sauces do not contain wheat, therefore, depending on the soy sauce used to make the peanut sauce, it’s still possible to find some that might be gluten-free.
The safest option is to make your peanut sauce as there are plenty of recipes online that avoid both gluten and animal ingredients. For example, The Minimalist Baker has a quick recipe with 5-ingredients, namely creamy peanut butter, gluten-free tamari, maple syrup, chili garlic sauce, lime juice, and water.
If you really must avoid gluten, it’s much safer to cook your food. The same goes for many other allergic ingredients such as dairy or soy.
Peanut sauce goes by different names in Southeast Asia, including satay, which is a popular meat dish in Indonesia that is served with peanut sauce.
However, peanut sauce is also used in various other dishes, in fact, as a vegan, I’ve eaten roasted vegetables covered in peanut sauce, and it was delicious.
While in some cases peanut sauce may be made with ingredients such as honey or fish sauce, the traditional recipe doesn’t call for any animal ingredients. It’s a combination of roasted peanuts, coconut milk, soy sauce, tamarind, galangal, garlic, and a few spices. Therefore, it’s usually suitable for vegans.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Is Peanut Sauce Spicy?
Frankly, it depends on the recipe. Some peanut sauces may include chili peppers, which will make your peanut sauce quite spicy. The traditional recipe usually contains galangal, which is also spicy. However, I’ve personally eaten peanut sauces that were more sweet than spicy, so it’ll vary based on the ingredients used.
Does Peanut Sauce Need To Be Refrigerated?
Peanut sauce usually doesn’t last that long since it’s made with coconut milk, which like dairy milk tends to last only a day or two at room temperature. If you want to increase its life span, you can store it in the fridge so it can last up to five days.
Is Peanut Sauce Keto?
Well, assuming that the peanut sauce doesn’t contain any sweet ingredients (such as maple syrup or honey), I’d say that it’s suitable for people following a keto diet. Usually, peanut sauce is made with high-fat ingredients such as peanuts and coconut milk, which means it has a high-fat content, thus being keto-friendly.