Let’s Cook! Monkey Gland Sauce

June 16, 2011

Yes, Monkey Gland Sauce – let’s repeat – Monkey Gland Sauce.

While perusing one of the plethora of food periodicals that’s makes it’s way into my mailbox (the literal, not virtual, one) I ran across a recipe for something named Monkey Gland Sauce… how can you not stop when you see something named Monkey Gland Sauce! Let’s say that again: Monkey Gland Sauce…

Sadly a look at the list of ingredients didn’t show any monkey, nor glands (simian or otherwise)… somewhat dejected, I was still fascinated by the name (can I mention it again? Say it out loud, it will make you happy – Monkey Gland Sauce!).

I soon was searching the Interwebs in search of more info on, and other recipes for, well you-know-what…

Turns out that this concoction is a traditional condiment for steak in South Africa (several of the recipes and references I found did actually come from South African web sites/blogs). Apparently the origins of the sauce are not quite clear, but one story that was repeated several times (and if nothing else, is a darn good story, so not being one to forgo a good story, we’ll share it here):

In the 1950’s the Carlton Hotel in Johannesburg hired some classically trained French chefs for their dining room to cook for their rich white clientele. The customers apparently weren’t fond of the steak dishes served with the usual Continental sauces, so eventually in frustration the chefs threw together whatever commercial condiments they had on hand and presented the resulting sweet & sour sauce to the diners… of course it was a hit…

So the unsophisticated eaters were happy, the chefs thought it all a great joke, and the rest is, as they say, culinary history…

Why Monkey Gland you say (yes, I did hear you)??? I did come across one rather unsavory, and somewhat difficult to believe story, so I’ll leave it to you to research it if you so desire.

So how is it? Actually not bad at all, and after looking at the various recipes, I realized this is basically the same flavor profile as the Mango Barbeque Sauce that has been served alongside the tenderloin at the South Africa kiosk at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival the past couple of years… how they resisted using the name Monkey Gland Sauce is beyond me!

Most of the recipes had many similar components, so I came up with the following version after combining several of them… so now, let’s cook Monkey Gland Sauce!

Monkey Gland Sauce


Some of the suspects...

1  Onion, finely diced

3  Cloves Garlic, minced

1 – 2 Tbl  Fresh Ginger, grated or finely minced

1/2 Cup  Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 Cup  Tomato Sauce

1/2 Cup  Catsup

3/4 Cup  Chutney (I used hot Mango, or use Major Grey’s, or try the recipe here)

1/2 Cup  Broth (I used chicken, but beef obviously would work well with steak)

2 Tbl  Cider Vinegar

3 Tbl  Port Wine (or other sweet red wine)

1 Tbl  Brown Sugar

2 Tsp  Prepared Mustard (I used brown “deli-style”, but Dijon or most any would work)

1 Tsp  Sambal Oleak (or any other hot sauce of your choosing, Tabasco, Sirichai, etc.)

Salt & Black pepper to taste


Sauté the onion, garlic and ginger in some olive oil over medium heat under soft and just golden, maybe 10 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients…

and simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

Taste and adjust seasonings to your tongue, more vinegar if it needs more tang, not sweet enough, more brown sugar (or throw in some honey), more hot sauce if desired. maybe a bit more mustard…

Serve the warm sauce over cooked steak…

A rib eye on the BGE

Monkey Gland Sauce over a piece of Rib Eye with Cheddar-Habanero Smashed Potatoes and some roasted veggies

or most anything else – I think it would be really good with pork.

Should keep well in the fridge for a week or two, several recipes noted it would also freeze well, but as yet I can’t say on that.

What else can we do with MGS? How about a Sloppy Joe? Here’s an easy bonus recipe:

Dice some onion and green pepper and sauté.

Add ground meat of choice (turkey in this case). Cook until done and drain any grease.

I added some soaked bulgur wheat to try and “healthify” the mixture a bit…

Stir in some of the sauce…

and simmer until tasty and “sloppy” to your taste… you can certainly add other things to this as you like (a can of drained Rotel anyone?).

Serve atop a toasted bun (here we have a lovely potato sandwich bun, Big Dick’s favorite, along with some sliced red onion) – open face with a knife and fork would be fine if you don’t want to be so “sloppy”…

One of the most amusing sites I came across while researching this sauce (let’s say it again: Monkey Gland Sauce!), was a blog post from a writer in Cape Town, let’s say the author doesn’t seem to be too fond of this, it’s worth a read so check out the post on Kitsch’n’Zinc.

That’s it, no monkey, no gland, but a damn fun name, and tasty to boot… serve it to your guests and loudly proclaim, now we’re having Monkey Gland Sauce!

Back to the kitchen… sadly whatever will come out next can’t possibly have such a great name…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: