Satay is a hugely popular dish in Southeast Asia that has gained a huge following around the world. A genuine satay has a tasty peanut flavoured sauce, which not many satay makers know, due to its development and changes in recipe. If you’re looking to serve satay at your next event, give our quick guide a read before ordering from a satay stall or engaging a Singaporean Caterer specialising in local food; we think you’ll be surprised by the wide range of styles of and choices on offer. If you have Muslim friends, it will be helpful to engage a Halal certified caterer like eatz Catering.
What is Satay?
Satay is the name for a dish of seasoned, skewered meats that is more often than not served with a peanut flavoured sauce. Some think that satay is the name for this peanut flavoured sauce however this is incorrect as this dish is served, on rare occasions, with different sauces. The meat used for satay can be one of many but the most common are: chicken, duck, goat, beef, mutton and fish. The skewers – traditionally coconut palm fronds are used as the actual skewers – are grilled over a charcoal or wood fire and marinated in a huge variety of seasonings, turmeric being the most popular ingredient.
Satay is widely believed originated from Java, Indonesia, which was developed from the Indian kebab. Back then, Arab traders would skewer and cook their meat on their swords, or use metal skewers, much like we still see in the cuisine from that region today. This was adapted by Indonesians and coconut palm fronds were used in place of the swords.
The word itself is said to have arisen from the Indonesian sate or the Malay saté. This story is evidenced by the fact that the meats favoured by Indonesians and Malaysians – mutton and beef due to their halal diet, are also those favoured by Arabs and would have been the meats that the traders brought with them to Indonesia.
Satay is known globally
Anywhere you are in the globe, you’re sure to bump into a variation of the Satay, but with the highest variety found in Indonesia. The most popular satay, worldwide, is a simple chicken satay served with a sweet peanut sauce. However, Satay, especially in modern Asian fusion cuisine, has now come to simply mean the peanut sauce that many of these meats are served with. Below we have listed some of the more popular satay varieties found in Southeast Asia.
Sate Ayam: Chicken Satay, the most popular and widely found in Indonesia it is served with the renowned peanut sauce.
Sate Bulus: A rare delicacy found in Yogyakarta, a city located in the home of satay Java, Indonesia. Sate Bulus is turtle satay made from freshwater, softshell turtles. It is served with a sweet soy sauce and a side of fresh shallots.
Sate Kambing: A Satay made of either goat, mutton or lamb. This satay is different because, unlike other Satays, it is not pre-seasoned or pre-cooked. The meat is skewered and then grilled, not on a grill above the charcoals, but by being placed directly onto the charcoal. It is served with a sweet soy sauce, shallots and tomatoes. Lamb from a goat is preferred to the lamb of a sheep because of the milder flavour, and lambs under 5 months old are said to be best.
Satay in Singapore is known as satay and almost all variants of Indonesian satay can be found here, at our very own hawker food stalls. A local version of Satay takes the traditional peanut style satay sauce and adds a pineapple puree to it. Another Satay that is popular, specifically in Singapore, is shrimp satay. The prawns are marinated in garlic and not served with the peanut sauce, or any sauce at all for that matter, because it masks the delicate flavours of the meat used.
So now we’ve tickled your tastebuds with some of the varieties of Satay available to you, are you interested in trying them? We hope you are, because there is a huge world of satay for you to start tasting!