Grilled Cabbage with Peanut Sauce
Grilled Cabbage with Peanut Sauce

Grilled cabbage wedges are the perfect canvas for a flavorful peanut satay sauce made with kecap manis (an Indonesian sweetened soy sauce). It adds depth of flavor to this summer ready meal.

Family BBQs were a big part of my family’s celebrations. My dad or older brother would fire up the charcoal grill, and soon the irresistible smell of my mom’s satay chicken skewers would be wafting through our house (and probably the whole neighborhood). Since then, I have always associated the scent of peanut sauce with grilling, a summer treat.

The sauce really stands out – it’s nutty, of course, but it’s also heavily perfumed from the shallots and garlic, and also sweet from the kecap manis.

What is Kecap Manis?

A staple ingredient in Indonesian cuisine, kecap manis is a sweetened aromatic soy sauce that has been sweetened with palm sugar, resulting in a dark, syrupy sauce with deep notes of molasses.

It’s a unique product found in Asian grocery stores — if you can’t find it, you can substitute a product called “sweet soy sauce.” In addition, you can also prepare kecap manis at home. Mix equal amounts of soy sauce and palm sugar (or brown sugar), cook until syrupy, 10-15 minutes, and allow to cool completely.

It will thicken further as it cools. Store in the fridge.

The peanut base is best blitzed in a high-speed blender or food processor. You can go for a smooth mix, but I like my peanut satay with a bit of texture, so I keep it slightly chunky.

No peanuts in the pantry? You can substitute peanut butter for the peanuts. The exact amount of peanut butter varies by brand (some are oilier while others are thicker). So start with 3/4 cup and add more until you get the right consistency.

Those looking for an alternative to peanuts can use roasted cashews in the sauce instead for a sweeter, milder finish.

Tips and tricks for grilling cabbage

Let’s talk cabbage. One of the most versatile vegetables, equally wonderful in coleslaw, as pickles, simmered in a rich sauce or stir-fried with pasta.

It’s also the perfect vegetable for grilling, as high heat imparts a nice smoky flavor. These wedges will take some time to cook, so after searing turn them on one side over high heat, reduce the heat and cover loosely with a piece of foil. The foil creates a steamy environment that allows the cabbage to fully soften while the lower heat slowly chars, drawing out sweetness and tenderness.

You can use any type of cabbage here – green, purple, or savoy would all work. Napa cabbage would be nice too, although it has a higher water content and cooks faster, so be sure to adjust the grilling time accordingly.

The charred scallions add a nice, well-rounded sweetness to the dish — feel free to substitute leeks, scallions, green garlic, or red onions.

Try more recipes from To Asia with Love author Hetty McKinnon

  • Flourless soy sauce brownies
  • Seaweed Lettuce Salad

Grilled cabbage with peanut sauce

preparation time
20 minutes

cooking time
25 minutes

total time
45 minutes

4 servings


For the cabbage

  • 1 (approx 3 Lb) green or purple cabbage

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • Kosher salt

  • 4 spring onionswhite and green parts separated and cut into 5 inch pieces

  • handful coriander leaves

  • 1/4 Cup roasted peanuts

  • 2 teaspoon roasted white Sesame seeds

  • 1 limecut into 4 segments

For the peanut satay sauce

  • 1/2 red chilicored and sliced

  • 2 cloves garliccut

  • 1 big shallotspeeled and sliced

  • 1/2 Cup roasted peanuts

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon neutral oil like peanut or grape seed

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Kecap Manis

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon palm tree or Brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon sea-salt

  • 1/2 Cup water

For garnish

  • coriander

  • Sesame seeds

  • Chopped peanuts

  • pull the trigger lime


  1. Prepare cabbage:

    Remove any loose and discolored leaves from the cabbage and trim lightly if there is a long stalk. Cut the cabbage in half through the stalk and then cut each half into 4 equal pieces – you should have 8 wedges in total.

    Place on a plate, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a few pinches of salt and rub on both sides.

  2. Grill cabbage:

    If using an outdoor grill, heat it to medium-high. If you’re using a grill pan on the stove, set it to medium-high.

    When the cooking surface is smoking hot, turn the cabbage cut-side down and cook until charred, 3-4 minutes. Flip and cover with a piece of foil (it doesn’t need to be completely covered, I just drape it over the cabbage wedges and pin it around the edges).

    Reduce heat to medium and cook until cabbage is tender, 8-10 minutes. Check tenderness by inserting a bamboo skewer into some of the leaves to make sure it comes out easily. Remove from the stove, sprinkle with a little salt and set aside.

  3. Grill spring onions:

    Halve the white parts of the spring onions lengthways. On the same grill or griddle, add the white and green parts of the spring onion and set them apart, as the green will cook faster.

    Cook the green parts for about 1 minute and the white parts for 2 minutes until charred. Take out and set aside.

  4. Make the peanut sauce:

    Meanwhile, for the peanut sauce, place the chili, garlic, shallots, and peanuts in a blender or food processor and blend until a lumpy paste forms (you can add a splash of water to get the blender going).

    Place a medium saucepan over medium-low heat and add the oil and paste, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Add kecap manis, palm/brown sugar, salt and water. Stir for 2-3 minutes until the sauce is well combined.

  5. Serve the cabbage wedges and peanut sauce:

    To serve, spread a little peanut sauce onto a serving platter, arrange the cabbage wedges and charred spring onions on top, then drizzle with more peanut sauce. Finally top with coriander leaves, sesame seeds and peanuts and drizzle with some lime juice.

nutritional information (per serving)
414 calories
23g Fat
48g carbohydrates
15g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!