Spicy katjan sauce, so gorgeous I’m eating it with a spoon

Mar 10, 2015 | 3 comments


Went to the third Cooking Around The World class last night. We made Beef Rendang, a spicy Indonesian beef and coconut curry, and Gado Gado, a layered vegetable salad with Katjan sauce, which is a spicy peanut sauce.

We’re having the Rendang with some rice this evening and I’ve just had some Gado Gado for lunch. We layered up the salad last night and John, the chef, said that it would last beautifully in the fridge. But, as I suspected would happen, the salt in the sauce drew out water from the vegetables and made the sauce watery.

spicy katjan sauce

I was already thinking about a frugalised version, so had to have a go immediately didn’t I!

The original ingredients, from the class were:-
1 small onion
3 tblsps peanut butter
30g dark brown sugar
20ml kecap manis
1 tsp ground coriander
0.5 tsp ground cumin
1 stalk lemon grass, crushed
1 tbslp veg oil
1 tsp sambal ulek
half a can of coconut milk

Kecap manis is a thick, sweet type of soy sauce, with palm sugar to sweeten. Sambal Ulek is chilli sauce, sharp flavoured with lime. So I thought I could probably substitute soy sauce for the kecap manis and sweet chilli sauce for the sambal ulek.  I used muscovado sugar, and I think you would notice the difference in flavour too much using ordinary, white, sugar.  I  thought I would add another spoon of lemon juice to replace the lemon grass and see what happened

I used
1 small onion, 5p
3 tblsps peanut butter, Basics, Asda, 62p/340g, 11p
30g dark brown sugar, muscovado from Asda £1.38/500g, 8p
20ml dark soy sauce, Asda £1.78/375ml, 10p
1 tsp ground coriander, Asda £1/100g, 5p
0.5 tsp ground cumin, Asda £1/100g, 2p
2 tblsp lemon juice, Asda 60p/250ml, 7p
1 tbslp veg oil, Asda £1.20/litre, 2p
1 tsp sweet chilli sauce, Asda £1.99/380g, 3p
50g dried coconut milk powder

I used coconut powder because I have loads from an Approved Foods order. If you don’t have that, use 50g creamed coconut 76p/200g (19p) or half a can of coconut milk, 75p can, (37p)
If you use the creamed coconut or coconut milk powder add the equivalent of half a can of water too.

Total of 72p using creamed coconut

Finely dice the onion and saute in the oil, in a saucepan, until softened. Add everything else except the coconut milk. Stirring well, add the coconut milk on a low flame to make into a smooth sauce. Remove lemongrass before serving (if using). I used chunky peanut butter as that is what I like

This version is almost as good as the original, gorgeous, wonderful, lovely, sauce we produced last night. It doesn’t have quite the depth of flavour, but is certainly a more than acceptable substitute.  The little dish that this makes would be enough to make a Gado Gado for 2 or 3, or to pour over rice for 3 or 4. Or dip your chips in it, put a splodge on a jacket potato, eat it out of the dish with a spoon!

Keep the sauce at a thick consistency, so it drops off the spoon rather than runs off. The oil gives a lovely, silky, mouthfeel. The chilli gives it just a little hum, the sweet of the sugar and the salt of the soy sauce combine to create something truly wonderful.

Making it yourself of course, you can adjust the flavourings to give it more chilli hum, more sweetness, more salty soy, however you like it.

If you want to make Gado Gado. Lightly cook a selection of vegetables eg white cabbage, carrots, green beans and bean sprouts, which is what we used last night. Keep them a little crunchy. Layer the cooked and well drained veg in a dish, spooning a little sauce on top of each layer. Top with the remaining sauce and a boiled egg each. Eat within an hour or two or the salt will make the sauce watery.

Would make a fab packed lunch, but keep the sauce separate until you are ready to eat. You can eat it cold, or keep everything warm and have it that way for dinner.

spicy katjan sauce



  1. Julia

    Everyone goes crazy about peanut sauce here, so we tend to put it on everything! Also, you can make your own Serundeng – much cheaper than the ready-made, and better of course.

  2. Lesley

    Love the idea of the coconut and toasted peanut topping.
    I’ve just had a couple of huge celery sticks, dipping the ends in the pot, yummy

  3. Julia

    I live on the (semi)Dutch island of Curacao in the Caribbean (lucky me!)
    where Indonesian dishes are very popular.
    I have to say that Gado Gado is my absolute favorite, with lots of steamed veggies, and topped with a chicken sate or two. Sprinkle with toasted grated coconut and toasted peanuts, can be bought ready made and called Serundeng. Delicious.

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