Satay would have to be one of the most popular and well known South-East Asian dishes. I think the main draw, apart from being delicious, is that it’s mild enough to appeal to almost anyone and the accompanying peanut sauce is both exotic and comfortingly familiar. There are two main versions of satay, Indonesian and Malaysian with the difference being most apparent in the peanut sauce. Indonesian satay uses coconut milk and is milder in flavour whereas the Malaysian version is thicker and richer with more spices. I love them both but I’ve eaten more of the Indonesian variety which is why I decided to try this recipe by former Masterchef contestant Poh Ling Yeow. Poh hails from Malaysia so I was confident that the recipe would be authentic and none of her recipes I’ve tried have ever failed me, and this one was no exception. I used beef fillet which I know may sound extravagant but with fillet you can get away with more time on the grill without running the risk of tough meat and I like the marinade in the satay to develop and little bit of char. You could of course use other cuts such as rump, sirloin or chuck, or even opt for chicken or pork. I served the satay as a main meal with steamed rice, fresh pineapple and cucumbers, but you could also serve them on their own as an appetiser or as finger food with drinks.
Ingredients – Serves 4 generously Adapted from Poh Ling Yeow
20-25 bamboo skewers soaked in water for 1 hour
1 kg beef fillet/tenderloin, cut into 1 x 2 x 3cm pieces, you can also use other cuts of beef or chicken thighs (see note above)
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
5 small shallots or one medium spanish onion chopped
2 cloves garlic sliced
1 tsp ground turmeric or 2 cm fresh, chopped
4 stalks lemongrass, sliced finely (pale part only and remove any dry outer layers)
1 cm galangal chopped
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dark sweet soy
4 tablespoons oil
Homemade Satay Sauce – makes double the amount of sauce required but freezes well
15 small shallots or 2 medium spanish onions, chopped
15 dried red chillies (don’t use fresh and make sure the dried ones are large chillies as the smaller finger size ones are too hot), stalks discarded, deseeded, soaked in boiling water until soft and drained
8 cloves garlic
2 cm piece galangal, chopped
2 stalks lemongrass (pale part only and remove any dry outer layers)
1 – 2 tablespoons tamarind paste (from jar or you can use extract from pulp)
⅔ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoons salt
150ml vegetable oil
1 cup water
2 tablespoons lime juice
500g salted, roasted, crushed peanuts
For the marinade, place the lemongrass, shallots, galangal and garlic in a food processor and blitz until it forms a fine paste. Remove and place into a bowl and add the rest of the marinade ingredients. Stir well to combine. Add the meat and stir throughly so as all the pieces are coated. Marinate the meat overnight (or as long as you can) in a snaplock bag making sure all the air is pushed out first or even better still if you have a crivac machine as the marinate will further penetrate the meat with no air pockets surrounding the meat. Skewer the meat and barbeque or grill, continually turning so it doesn’t burn, until the meat is just cooked.
To make the peanut sauce, place shallots, garlic, galangal, rehydrated chillies and lemongrass into a food processor and blitz to form a fine paste. Don’t be tempted to add water as this will make the paste difficult to caramelise. You can also use a mortar and pestle but you must add only small amounts of the ingredients at a time, ensuring you have a fine paste before you add more ingredients. Set aside.
Heat oil in a heavy based saucepan or wok over medium heat and pour paste in. Fry, stirring continuously to make sure the bottom isn’t catching, until there is very little steam rising from the sauce and you can definitely see it caramelising and smell it getting fragrant. Be patient with this step as it’s vital for the onions etc to be well cooked and golden before proceeding. Add water and bring to boil. Add tamarind, lime, sugar, salt and half the peanuts. Bring to boil again, and simmer until thickened. remove from heat and set aside till required. When you’re ready to serve, re-heat and stir through the remaining peanuts.