26 January 2007

Monkey Gland Sauce

So while I was shopping for instant protein (TVP) in Nelspruit I came across this lovely little packet of sauce. Later I found it sold in bottles. I might have seen it on my past trips to South Africa but it didn't register. At any rate the vegetarian conservationist in me shuddered to think what the possible ingredients were. Was I seeing a bushmeat product on the shelves of a national grocery chain? I really did have one of those moments when I was completely revolted, but driven to see what was really inside the container. Darwin will probably catch up with me one of these days.

What is in Monkey Gland Sauce? No monkeys, unless African monkeys are made of sugar, starch, maltodextrin, wheat flour, skim milk powder, salt, flavouring agents (gotta watch ingredients with an extra 'u'), vegetable fat, tomatoes, herbs and spices (just what kinds?), colourants, MSG, flavour enhancer, emulsifier, and anti-caking agent (damn, and I wanted a chocolate monkey cake). So at first read, perhaps the sauce is meant to satisfy monkeys (the hairless kind) - although the gland thing.... not sure why that particular word was included.

So I googled it. I'm not the first blogger to write about Monkey Gland sauce - it strikes many non-South Africans as an odd thing. But as an American, who is married to a Texan and living in Georgia, I get it. Monkey Gland sauce is the South African equivalent of BBQ sauce. Why they choose to call it this is beyond me, but it seems to be a must have at braais for your steaks.

I found a recipe on line for anyone who would like to try it at home from Johan Potgieter's South African Cooking website. He recommends the sauce for meatballs, steak, or even just pasta. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks or in the freezer for 4 months.

Monkey Gland Sauce


2 large onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, sliced
olive oil
1/2 c water or stock
5 tsp prepared mustard or 1 tsp mustard powder
5 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 c tomato puree
3 tbsp port wine
1 tbsp red wine
2 tsp soy sauce
3 1/2 tbsp ketchup
1/2 c fruit chutney
2 tsp ginger, grated
salt and black pepper to taste

1. Saute onions and garlic in some olive oil.

2. Add stock or water, black pepper to taste, salt to taste, mustard, worcestershire sauce, port wine, red wine, soy sauce, tomato puree, ketchup, fruit chutney, and ginger.

3. Simmer for 30 minutes or more.

As you can see, no monkeys will be harmed directly in the making of this sauce. However, depending on what you put it on, some monkeys may suffer symptoms of indigestion, higher cholesterol, hardening of the arteries, accumulation of fat around the mid-section and buttocks, and heart attack - not to mention the potential damage to the biosphere from industrial food production and transport.


  1. Maybe its sauce to pour upon monkey sweetbreads? Hi Jen!

  2. Monkey Gland sauce originates from France. A Dr Voronof experimented by implanting monkey glands into rich gentelman to increase their libido.

    He cooked his steak in a sauce. They called it Steak Voranof. Steak voranof is similar to Moneky gland sauce.

    How the recipe found its way to South Africa is unknown.