Tofu Satay With Kuah Kacang (Peanut Sauce)

April 12, 2022
3 Ratings
Photo by WoonHeng Chia
  • Prep time 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 4 plus extra sauce
Author Notes

Tofu is my favorite protein to use in dishes because of how versatile it is. In this recipe, the tofu is marinated with shallot, garlic, lemongrass, galangal, turmeric, and maple syrup. It’s so flavorful. To create a char similar to a traditional satay, a brushing mixture (coconut milk plus maple syrup) is used when grilling. And to go with: a not-to-be-missed peanut sauce, kuah kacang. Ground peanuts, plus a lot of the same ingredients from the satay (like shallot, garlic, lemongrass, and galangal), simmer until all the flavors meld. It’s savory and sweet, with a slight crunch from the nuts. Since kuah kacang takes a little time to come together, I like to make a bigger batch. To create a satay meal, just like home, I like to serve it with a side of chopped cucumber and onion, plus ketupat (compressed rice cake) when time allows. —WoonHeng Chia

What You'll Need
  • Tofu Satay
  • 4 small shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (white part only), roughly chopped
  • 1 small (1-inch) piece galangal root, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 (14- to 16-ounce) package firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon mushroom/umami seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons coconut milk
  • Neutral oil, such as vegetable
  • Kuah Kacang (Peanut Sauce)
  • 1 1/2 cups salted or unsalted roasted peanuts, preferably skin-on
  • 6 small shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons chile paste, or 10 dried red chiles such as bird eye’s or Chinese (softened in hot water)
  • 1 small (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 small (1-inch) piece galangal, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stalk (white part only), roughly chopped
  • Neutral oil, such as vegetable
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate (Thai or Malaysian)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kicap (aka kecap) manis
  • 1 teaspoon mushroom/umami seasoning
  • Salt, to taste
  • Chopped cucumber and onion, for serving
  1. Make the tofu marinade: Place shallots, garlic, lemongrass, and galangal in a blender. Add just enough water (I used about 1/4 cup) to blend the ingredients into a fine paste.
  2. Place the tofu cubes on a large plate. Pour the marinade on top, then add 1 tablespoon of maple syrup, the turmeric, paprika, salt, mushrooms seasoning, and 1 tablespoon of oil. Using your hands, rub the tofu with the mixture until well coated. If the marinade appears to be too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Marinate for 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the kuah kacang: Rinse and dry the blender, then add the peanuts and pulse until they are coarsely ground. Transfer the peanuts to a bowl and wipe out the blender if needed. Now add the shallots, garlic, chile paste or soaked chiles, ginger, galangal, and lemongrass to the blender. Add just enough oil to blend all the ingredients into a fine paste.
  4. Set a large wok over medium heat and add ¼ cup of oil. Add the paste and cook until the oil starts to separate, stirring occasionally to prevent from burning, 10 to 20 minutes, adding more oil if the pan looks dry.
  5. Add the ground peanuts and 2 cups of water (or enough to cover the peanuts by at least ½ inch) and bring to a boil. Stir in the sugar, tamarind, kicap manis, mushrooms seasoning, and salt to taste (it should be spicy with a hint of sweetness). Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, until it’s a little thicker than gravy and will be able to easily cling to the tofu satay.
  6. Carefully thread 4 to 5 pieces of tofu onto a bamboo or metal skewer, then repeat with the remaining tofu. To make the brushing mixture, add the coconut milk and the remaining 1 tablespoon of maple syrup to the marinade left on the plate and stir to combine.
  7. Heat a large griddle or skillet (preferable cast-iron) over medium heat with 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil. Carefully lower the skewers onto the hot skillet in a single layer (cook in batches if needed). Cook, while basting with the brushing mixture, until golden brown and slightly charred all over, 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
  8. Serve immediately with the warm kuah kacang, along with chopped cucumber and onion.

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1 Review

Umami C. April 29, 2022
This is such a phenomenal recipe! Bursting with flavor between the tofu marinade and the peanut dipping sauce. Paired with a bit of sticky rice, bok choy, and maitake mushrooms for a rounded meal. Will absolutely be making again.