Thursday, January 14, 2010


The January 2010 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Cuppy of Cuppylicious and she chose a delicious Thai-inspired recipe for Pork Satay from the book 1000 Recipes by Martha Day.

Early this month I decided that I wanted to do something different for this year and stray away from Daring Bakers to which I have been an ardent member for more than a year and a half. However I am not totally out of this group yet as I have decided to sign up as a Daring Cook instead. This group concentrates more on cooking rather than baking and it's something which I hope to do more this year. And their past challenges such as dumplings, sushi and vietnamese pho have inspired me a lot. I am really looking forward this new adventure!

When Cuppy posted up that this month's challenge was satay, my immediate thoughts was this would be a breeze. For us Malaysians we have practically grown up with a satay in our mouths (metaphor only ok). In fact satay can be said to be one of our national dishes. It can be found easily along street walks, coffee shops, restaurants and even hotels. Heh I forgot to mention that they now come frozen as well - not that this existed when I was young.

Although Cuppy's original recipe seems more Thai, I have decided to do my own "national" dish version - Malaysian satay. And how is this served? It's accompanied with a peanut sauce, ketupat (which is a Malaysian version of cooked rice cake specially wrapped in coconut leaves) and a side dish of raw sliced cucumbers and red onions. Different types of meat are used in Malaysian satay such as beef, chicken, lamb, mutton and pork (which is only sold by the Chinese satay vendors). The satay is cooked over a charcoal grill and the meat is constantly baste in oil using a lemongrass brush (read below to understand what a "lemongrass brush" is)


Ingredients for the Satay

1 lb beef [tenderloin, rib eye or flank steak]
1 lb boneless chicken [preferably dark meat]
1 tsp turmeric powder
4 Tbsp sugar
12 shallots **
6 cloves garlic **
1" turmeric root **
1 tsp white peppercorn **
1 tsp coriander seeds **
2 tsp fennel seeds **
2 tsp cumin seeds **
1 tsp belacan

** ingredients to be grounded together finely

Ingredients for Satay Peanut Sauce:

3 candlenuts (This is called buah keras in Malay. If you can't find this, you can substitute with macadamia nuts)
2 Tbsp tamarind pulp
3 cups coconut milk (fresh or canned)
2 cups roasted peanuts, coarsely pounded
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup warm water
3 Tbsp sugar
salt to taste
2-3 med red onions **
6 cloves garlic **
5 Tbsp chili paste **
2 stalks lemongrass, 4 to 6 inch of the ‘white’’ ends only, coarsely chopped **
1 tsp belacan [dried shrimp paste] **

** ingredients to be grounded together finely

Miscellaneous :

2 seedless cucumber, cut into bite-size wedges
2 red onions, cut in bite-size wedges
about 50 bamboo skewers, soaked in water 1 hour (this is to present the skewers from burning whilst on the grill)
4 Tbsp oil combined with 1 tbsp sugar [This is the oil mixture for basting]
1 lemongrass stalk - cut the leaves or blades end straight across. Use a string to tie it into a basting brush [optional]

To Prepare Satay:

1) Using a blender, grind shallots, garlic, turmeric root [or galangal, or ginger], peppercorn, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and belacan into a paste

2) Add turmeric powder and sugar to the paste, and mix well. [This is the satay marinade]

3) Slice beef and chicken into thin long strips, and place into separate containers. To each meat, add half each of the satay marinade, and mix well to evenly coat the strips of meat

4) MARINATE the beef and chicken strips for at least 3-4 hours. Best if marinated overnight [refrigerated]

5) Tread 3 to 5 strips of meat onto each bamboo skewer, leaving 3 to 4 inch bare at the 'handle end'

6) Grill satays on a hot charcoal bbq grill, indoor grill or on a stovetop grill pan until golden brown. Turn and baste often with the sugar and oil mixture, preferably with your homemade 'lemongrass brush'

7) Serve Satay with a small bowl of satay peanut sauce for dipping, and with cucumber and onion slices. Malaysian satay is often served with Ketupat, [a Malay rice cake].

To Prepare Satay Peanut Sauce:

1) Using a mortar & pestle or blender, grind chili paste, onions, garlic, candlenuts, belacan and lemongrass into a paste

2) In a bowl, add warm water to tamarind pulp. Using your fingers, squish and mix the tamarind pulp to extract ‘juice’. Strain to discard seeds and fibers

3) In a saucepan, heat oil, add ground paste, sauté until quite toasted, and oil starts to seep out

4) Add tamarind juice, bring to a boil, add coconut milk, sugar and salt to taste. Bring sauce to boil again, then reduce to slowly simmer for 10 mins

5) Add pounded peanuts, simmer for another 5 to 10 mins, or until the sauce reaches a ‘thickness’ to your liking [Note: Add more coconut milk if sauce becomes too thick, and if sauce is too thin, simmer longer]

6) Serve satay peanut sauce warm, or at room temperature, in a small bowl as an accompaniment for dipping the satays. It is great for dipping the ketupat.

Note: To give Malaysian satay it's 'aromatic’ authenticity, a lemongrass brush is used to baste the satays whilst it is being grilled.


homeladychef said...

Looks very familiar, our national dish indeed. ;)

Carolyn Jung said...

I can practically taste the wonderful smoky flavor just by looking at these photos. MMM!

bake in paris said...

Thanks for the authentic Malaysian satay and peanut sauce recipes... I have been eyeing for them for some time now. It must be so delicious!

And there is no where I could find ketupat here in Bangkok!!! *sigh

Sawadee from Bangkok,

Esther said...

Your version looks and sounds fantastic and I may well have a go at it some time but i must say Cuppy's was much easier for us here in the UK.. I would have to hunt quite hard to find many of your ingredients. I don't even know what belacan is and I've only ever seen turmeric as powder.

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

You get an 'A' from me, Jo. This looks as good, if not better, than those sold at the satay stalls!! Amazing how well you can cook AND bake. And write. And photograph.

PS: Sent you an email. Wondering if you received it?

Dodol & Mochi said...

Jo, satay is one of my fave classics!! Cross my fingers ... I hope I can get around to make it someday ... It's Malaysian!!


Anula said...

Lovely satay and what a great plating :) Can I have some???
Cheers! Anula.

pigpigscorner said...

YUM! Glad you decided to make a Malaysian one, have to try this!

The Duo Dishes said...

The lemongrass brush is very interesting. And so is your plating! It draws the eye to every corner.

Audax said...

Your photos are making my mouth water your post has transported me to a busy street thronging with people and food stall. Bravo bravo bravo on one of the best post on this challenge. Love your photos and the delightful recipe which I will use. Cheeers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

noobcook said...

wow your satay looks really authentic, good job! Love the raw red onions dipped in satay sauce :D~

Sophie said...


What a superb & fabulous looking dinner!! I so love all the wonderful combined flavours in here!

A real tru wonderful dinner!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Lovely! I really want to learn more about Malaysian cooking.

Dani said...

Beautiful photos and plating! Thanks for the tutorial :)

Lo said...

Great recipes -- I can almost taste the flavors just by reading through the recipe. Great job on this challenge. Love that presentation photo!

Mochachocolata Rita said...

gorgeous looking sate :)

wendyywy said...

Your satay looks yummy.
So does the kuah kacang.
I usually eat more cucumbers and onion with the gravy than satay. kekekeke.

sarah @ syrupandhoney said...

Nice international twist!

cuppy said...

OH wow! I am so glad you did a national and authentic dish. I absolutely love the step by step instructions, too.

Thank you for doing this! :D I'm very interested to try this! Now if I can just find all the ingredients...

Isabelle said...

Your version looks so delicious! Beautiful presentation and stunning pictures! Thanks for the authentic satay.

Olga said...

I like how you made an entire meal out of this!

I sort of feel the same about the Daring Bakers: I've skipped the last 2 challenges--they just seem a bit too intense and non-worthy. Hope they'll have something more fun for Feb!

TaGa_Luto said...

Your pictures are beautiful. I will have to try your recipe soon. As for that rice wrapped w/ coconut leaves, we have those in the Philippines too, we call them puso. Oh i miss those, it's also served w/ the Filipino BBQ w/ a side of soy sauce vinegar onion dip. Yum!

Lisa said...

Oh, Jo. your satay and photos are exquisite! Perfectly cooked and so 'glazey' (new word) LOL Hope you had a wonderful holiday and New Year!

Cathy @ ShowFoodChef said...

Fascinated with the rice wrapped in coconut leaves and loved learning about your version. Thanks!

Miriam said...

Your satay looks wonderful, thanks for the variations!

Barbara Bakes said...

Wow - what a beautiful presentation! I would love to try your version!

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