Sunday, September 15, 2013

#Eatsomethingnice 16 - Satay

proudly a part of #Saysomethingnice
image credit: Veronica Ng

Satay, those little skewers of grilled meat served with peanut sauce and accompanied with ketupat (Malay rice cake), cucumber and onion slices is a very popular dish in Malaysia. 

Satay may consist of diced chicken, mutton, beef, lamb, fish, rabbit or even ostrich grilled or barbecued over a wood or charcoal fire.

Walk down any street in the country and the mouthwatering aroma of satay exudes from practically every corner you pass: roadside satay stalls, hawker centers, pasar malam (night markets), kopitiam (Chinese coffee shops), and even high-end restaurants.

Satay is universally loved across Southeast Asia. It’s commonly believed that satay is the region’s distant cousin to the Middle-Eastern kebabs, thanks to the spice route and the culinary influence of the early Arab traders.

Its close cousins are yakitori from Japan, shish kebab from Turkey, shashlik from Caucasus, chuanr from China, and sosatie from South Africa. Satay is listed at number 14 on The World's 50 most delicious food readers' poll complied by CNN Go in 2011.

Each country of course has their own interpretation of satay, influenced by their own unique food culture and distinct palate. For instance, Indonesian satay tend to be sweeter because of kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) while the Thai satay is slightly less sweet since coconut milk is used instead.

Our very own satay is made with ingredients and spices commonly found in Malaysian cooking; shallots, lemongrass, kunyit (turmeric powder), and coriander powder. The basic recipe calls for the cook’s meat of choice to marinate for many hours or even overnight so as to lock in the flavor.

There are a number of well-known satay outlets in Kajang, Selangor which is dubbed the Satay City of the country. Satay Kajang has become a generic name for a style of satay where the meat chunks are bigger than normal, and the sweet peanut sauce served along with a portion of fried chilli paste.

Given its popularity, satay Kajang is now found throughout Malaysia. Stalls and restaurants around Kajang offer not only the more traditional chicken or beef satay, but also more exotic meat such as venison, rabbit or fish, as well as gizzard, liver, and a number of other variations.

Another version of satay is the satay lok-lok from Penang and sate celup (dipped satay) from Malacca. Both are Malaysian Chinese fusions of the hotpot and the Malay satay.

Pieces of raw meat, tofu, century eggs, quail eggs, fish cake, offal or vegetables are skewered on bamboo sticks. These are cooked by the customers themselves by being dipped in boiling water or soup stock. The satay is then eaten with a sweet, dark sauce, sometimes with chilli sauce as an accompaniment. 

There are usually no tables or chairs near street vendors, so customers tend to gather around the mobile food van.

If the satay is eaten with satay sauce, it is called sate lok-lok. If the satay is cooked with boiling satay peanut sauce, it is called sate celup. Both dishes are available from street vendors or in restaurants, and the majority are non-halal.

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