This subtly spicy sauce makes a great dip for beef satay.

Makes 1 cup


  • 1/3 cup unsalted creamy peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh lemongrass (from bottom bulb portion only, with tough outer leaves removed)
  • 1/4 tsp. flaky sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp. neutral oil, such as peanut or safflower
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallot
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic (from 1 small clove)
  • 1 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2-inch piece fresh galangal or ginger
  • 1 fresh kaffir (makrut) lime leaf
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk


    In a small bowl, stir together the peanut butter and water, mixing well. Set aside. Using a mortar and pestle, the back of a knife and a cutting board or a mini food processor, crush the lemongrass with the salt until a coarse paste forms. Set aside.

    In a small saucepan, heat the oil over low heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened and translucent but not brown, about 10 minutes. Add the peanut butter mixture, raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Add the brown sugar, lemon juice, galangal, lime leaf and cayenne and stir to combine.

    Turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes to infuse the flavors. Discard the galangal and the lime leaf. Stir in the coconut milk and lemongrass paste. Remove from heat and let cool completely (the flavor builds as the sauce rests). Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt and cayenne, if needed. Serve at room temperature or transfer to a tightly capped jar and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

    From Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert's Renegade Life, © 2017 by Emily Kaiser Thelin, M&P; originally published in Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking by Paula Wolfert. Copyright (c) 2009 by Paula Wolfert. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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