NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.
Satay sauce is primarily a dipping sauce in the United States, but it takes on a different role in Southeast Asia, where it originated; in addition to being a dipping sauce, it is used as a general purpose condiment to provide depth to dishes, and is the pivotal ingredient in many dishes such as gado-gado in Indonesia. In Australia, it’s a flavor you can have added to kebabs (to delicious effect, I might add), and is used as a condiment in many parts of Europe as well.
Because peanuts are not Paleo-friendly, I replaced the peanuts with a combination of walnuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts. Surprisingly, you can’t really tell that there aren’t any peanuts in this sauce – it’s the combination of shrimp paste, garlic, coconut milk, and palm sugar that really give this sauce its signature taste. If you have no restrictions on peanuts, I made no other substitution so you can just throw them back into the mix.