Anyone planning a visit to Malaysia will enjoy a culinary journey like no other where a melting pot of cultures including Malay, Chinese and Indian fuse together to create a mouth-watering gourmet treat.
Of particular Malaysian cuisine infamy is the use of satay in Malaysian cooking. This popular dish of seasoned, skewered and grilled meat is guaranteed to tantalize taste buds and is a firm Malaysian food favorite for locals and visitors alike.
Know as sate in Malay, it most commonly made with chicken, beef or pork but goat, mutton, fish, tofu and other meats can also be served. In some instances, exotic species such as horse, snake and crocodile can be offered to the more adventurous foodies.
The popularity of satay in Malaysia is widespread and its delicious aroma can be found up and down the country; from vendors selling tasty morsels on street corners, hawkers cooking from food carts and even being served up at five-star restaurants. During festivals and celebrations, satay is often served to family and friends too.
Turmeric is one of the most important ingredients of the marinade, giving the dish its distinctive yellow color. Satay is always served with a spicy peanut sauce which accompanies the meat.
More traditional places will use skewers from the midrib of a coconut plant frond although cheaper bamboo skewers are more commonly used. These are then grilled or barbecued over a fire to perfection.
Satay is a much loved dish in many parts of Southeast Asia and although it is argued that its origins stem from Indonesia, the dish still remains in the hearts of many Malaysian’s as their national dish.
Many believe that Kajang, Selangor is the satay capital of Malaysia. They have their own signature satay dish, Sate Kajang, which is the generic name for a style of satay where the meat pieces are larger than normal. The sweet peanut sauce is also often accompanied with a serve of fried chili paste.
Other regions in Malaysia have also put their local variation on the popular dish. Penang favors the sate “lok-lok” which involves the meat being skewered on the meat, being boiled in water or stock, and then being smothered in the peanut sauce. Visitors to Malacca may notice the local’s preference for the sate “celup” (dip satay) where the satay is cooked with the boiling satay sauce.
One popular Western misconception is that ‘satay’ refers to the peanut sauce. In reality, the term refers to any grilled skewered meats with a number of sauces. However due to the widespread international understanding of what satay is, the term has now evolved to mean the satay style peanut sauce.
For anyone planning a visit to Malaysia, sampling the wide array of delicious Malaysian cuisine on offer is an absolute must.
For those who cannot wait to taste the real deal but would like to try the use of satay in Malaysian cooking at home, here is a simple recipe to impress friends and families with the taste of Malaysia!
A simple and delicious Malaysian satay recipe
1 lb beef/chicken/pork
1 tsp coriander powder
2 stalks of lemon grass
6 shallots (peeled)
2 cloves garlic (peeled)
4 table spoon cooking oil
1 tea spoon chili powder
2 tea spoon turmeric powder
4 tea spoon “kecap manis” (sweet soy sauce)
1 tea spoon oyster sauce
Bamboo skewers (soak in water for two hour to avoid burning)
1 cucumber (peeled and cut into small pieces)
1 small onion (quartered)
1. Dice the meat into small cubes
2. Combine all other ingredients (apart from cucumber and onion) into a food processor
3. Add in a little water if necessary
4. Marinate the meat with the paste for 10-12 hours (cover and keep in refrigerator)
5. Thread the meat onto the bamboo skewers and grill for 2-3 minutes on each side
6. Serve with the cucumber and onion slices and enjoy!