Bumbu Pecel (Indonesian Peanut Sauce)

A couple of friends are travelling for a year. No, not jealous at all. They started in South America, swung through New Zealand and Australia and are now exploring Asia. Still not jealous. They are also doing cookery courses. OKAY, I am jealous!!! I’m jealous of the whole thing of course! They are writing a wonderful blog documenting their travels and they write great stuff giving interesting insight into the history and politics of each country. Guilaine, the feminine half of the couple, is writing up the recipes she learns and I’ve started trying them. I spent 3 months in Indonesia about 10 years ago so was very interested to see the Indonesian recipes. I am now utterly addicted to ‘Bumbu Pecel’ and what a great name it has!! You can find Guilaine’s original recipe here. I have written what I did to make the dish below purely because I couldn’t get hold of all the ingredients so it is a simplified but still utterly yummy and addictive version of the dish. The sauce tastes so fresh due to the combination of lime, chillies, garlic and tomato. It reminds me of eating a Vietnamese spring roll with its fresh light flavours. The recipe calls for soy sauce, which we all know is easy to get hold of, but I felt that it would skew the fresh taste so omitted it.

What you need (this serves about 3 or 1 if you’re as greedy as I can be):

150g peanuts (unsalted – I couldn’t find raw ones and once I could only find monkey nuts so shelled 400g of them!)

6 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 green chillies and 1 red chilli, seeds and pith removed and finely chopped

1 tbsp of soft light brown sugar

Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup of water

Salt to taste

1-2 tbsp of sunflower oil for frying

1/2 medium tomato, cut in half

2-3 tbsp of fried shallots

 What you need to do:

1. Grind the peanuts in a blender for a minute with the quarter cup of water.

2. Chop the chillies and garlic, squeeze the lime and pour it over the chilli and garlic pieces in a small bowl. Add a scrunch of salt and pepper.

3. Remove the ground peanuts from the blender, put in a big bowl, and add the chilli, lime, garlic concoction to the blender. Whizz, then add the tomato and whizz again.

4. Mix the garlic, tomato, chilli, lime paste into the ground peanuts.

5. Put some sunflower oil in a wok and heat. Then add the peanutty limey, etc paste and stir. The pink colour of the paste will turn a light brown. Cook whilst stirring for two minutes just to heat it through.

6. Serve with rice and steamed veg of your choice.

I like this recipe with steamed strips of dark green cabbage, broccoli, spinach and green beans. I think the green looks great with the pinky brown of the peanut sauce. I cooked the rice with bay leaves. Coconut rice would be good too – simply cook the rice in coconut milk instead of water.


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