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I'm interested in making my own Thai Peanut sauce. However, every recipe I see online says to use peanut butter. I like Thai Peanut sauce I have in restaurants, but I HATE peanut butter. So when I see a recipe that uses peanut butter (which also has tons of extra crap in it that is less than good for you), I think that the final result can't be good.

How does one make a peanut sauce without peanut butter? Grind peanuts yourself?

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Yup. Grind them your self! –  yossarian Jan 13 '11 at 21:06
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There's a lot of commercial peanut butter that doesn't contain "extra crap." Read the labels. –  Instance Hunter Jan 14 '11 at 18:55
    
I'm sure you are right.. I just have to rationalize my liking peanut sauce b/c I have a life long mantra of how i hate peanut butter... –  Scott Jan 14 '11 at 19:16
    
Most of my Thai friends consider peanut sauce a Chinese thing, so I suspect it's an "ethnically Chinese Thai" food, FWIW. –  JasonTrue Sep 17 '12 at 21:33

3 Answers 3

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Peanut butter is just ground roasted peanuts essentially. The american style peanut butter tends to be sweetened, as well as having extra oil and salt. But they are only slight flavour/texture enhancers (not that I think sugar enhances it, UK peanut butter is unsweetened usually).

Satay sauces are essentially just peanut butter sauces, roast some peanuts, grind them, then add to some lightly fried shallots and garlic, with chilli, soy sauce, lemon juice, salt, sugar and if you want it authentic probably some nam pla (fish sauce), or blachan (shrimp paste), all of the above to taste. Thin with water and reduce to the consistency you desire.

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OK, Yeah. I'm in the US and I have a deep hatred of American Peanut butter so putting it into my food just seems wrong. So I just learn how to roast nuts now.... :) –  Scott Jan 13 '11 at 21:29
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If you don't have the tools to grind your own, you can look for 'natural' peanut butter ... you might have to go and look in the 'healthy' section, or specifically go to a 'health foods' store to find it in the U.S. I can also get some at one of the candy shops near me, as they grind their own. (and cashew, almond, etc.) –  Joe Jan 13 '11 at 21:40
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Yeah, I think you must just be using the wrong peanut butter. Any good, fresh, unadulterated brand at a health food store will be essentially equivalent to what you can grind yourself and a whole lot less work. Some food co-ops even have a grinder right on site so that it is ultra-fresh. –  Michael at Herbivoracious Jan 13 '11 at 21:50
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@Scott: Definitely go have a look at your store for better peanut butter before you do anything too drastic. Many stores in my area (just plain ol' grocery stores) have a few peanuts-only peanut butters right alongside the Jiffy and whatnot. –  Jefromi Jan 13 '11 at 22:09
    
@Scott: Assuming you wish to grind your own, you need a good food processor, or some other grinder, a blender might be alright if strong enough. You shell peanuts and remove their skins*, then bung them on a tray, one layer deep only, in an oven about 350F for around 20 minutes then take them out, let them cool (they get very hot), grind them with a little salt. [* Removing the papery skins is a pain, freeze them overnight, or blanch them for a few minutes beforehand to make it easier. I would find a health food store.] –  Orbling Jan 13 '11 at 22:12

Peanut sauce is one of my very most favorite condiments, I practically consider it a major food group, and I moved from the US to live in another country where peanut butter is not available. Roasted & shelled peanuts are however bountiful and cheap, luckily, so I just learned to make my own peanut sauce. Here's how I make a simple and fast peanut sauce that is really tasty, perfect for satay, pouring on pasta, etc., doesn't require exotic ingredients, and you don't need a huge, expensive food processor, even a small sized one will work:

  • Process about 125 grams (few handfuls) of roasted/shelled peanuts in the processor until they're "dust" or as chunky as you like, remove from processor and set aside. (Order here is important, because trying to add the liquid later using a wimpy/small processor results in the ingredients never mixing well and is an exercise in frustration).

  • Peel a few cloves of garlic, process them until finely chopped, leave them in processor.

  • Add two teaspoons apple cider vinegar, two teaspoons sugar, two teaspoons soy sauce, and a few tablespoons of water. (Alter proportions to taste, I prefer a sweeter sauce).

  • blend

  • alternate adding in peanut dust and more water until all the peanuts are added and the consistency is what you like.

Pour on pasta or whatever you like and enjoy!

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This answer is a bit redundant given some of the comments on the accepted answer, but still:

Get a brand of peanut butter that's just peanuts. The one I get most of the time is Adam's, but Kraft has one, I've seen Maranatha products, but didn't know they made peanut butter until now. It shouldn't be hard to find something that will work for you.

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