Satay



Satay (sate in Bahasa Indonesia1) is a dish similar to kebabs in that it is made of cubes of skewered meat that is grilled and eaten with a peanut sauce dip.2 Tracing its origins to the Arabs,3 satay has been adapted to the multicultural palates of Asians, with various spicy sauces and different ways of marinating the meat.4

Origins
Arabs were known to skewer their meat on swords before roasting it and Middle Eastern nomads would barbecue their meat on metal skewers in a dish known as kebab.5 The spice trade brought Arab traders to Southeast Asia, which led to the spread of Arabic cuisine to Indonesia, and eventually to Malaya.6 The kebab can also be found in India and other countries such as Greece and Turkey.7 However, a key adaptation of the dish in Asia is that wooden rather than metal skewers are used.8


Satay sauce is made from ground peanuts, and other spices such as coriander and cumin seeds.9 Various seasonings are used to marinate the pieces of meat and the specially-made peanut sauce is usually served as a dip together with the grilled meat.10

Description
The commonly used meats in satay are beef, mutton, lamb and chicken.11 Among non-Muslims, pork is also used.12 The small cuts of meat are marinated in various spices that also tenderise the meat.13 They are then skewered through sharp, wooden sticks.14 Dried, thin stems of the coconut leaf were originally used as satay sticks.15 But, these days bamboo sticks are used.16


The satay is barbecued over a flaming charcoal fire and constantly brushed with oil for a tantalising glaze, until well-browned.17 The sticks of grilled meat are then served with a bowl of peanut dip and cuts of cucumber and onion.18 Several sticks can be eaten at one go due to the small, bite-sized pieces of meat. Satay is often accompanied by ketupat (steamed rice) wrapped in woven coconut leaf packets.19

Some types of satay come with a much sweeter flavour with a twirl of kechap manis (sweet sauce) added to the peanut sauce.20 Other spices such as galangal (a type of ginger) and finely cut dashes of the limau purut (kaffir lime) leaf further heighten the flavour of the satay and its sauce.21

Satay in Singapore
The travelling satay man, a street hawker who prepared his delicacy with a portable charcoal grill, was a familiar sight in Singapore up to the late 1970s.22 These roaming peddlers later set up permanent stalls by the roadside.23 The Satay Club, a collection of stalls hawking solely satay in the evenings at the edge of the park at the Esplanade, was a popular dining destination until it was demolished in 1995 to make way for new developments.24  


Today, satay is sold in many hawker centres and whole industries have grown around it.25 There are now wholesalers that prepare uncooked satay for hawkers, taking over a tedious task that used to be the sole duty of the satay hawker. In 1995, Hainanese Poh Kee Satay became the first company to franchise their satay using a specially designed machine that could skewer up to 30,000 sticks a day. There are also many companies that cater satay for parties.26

A local variant of the traditional satay sauce has the peanut mix topped with pineapple puree.27 Another innovation in recent times is shrimp satay.28 Prawns are coated in minced garlic, skewered and barbecued, but not served with the peanut sauce.29 Satay has also inspired other dishes such as satay bee hoon (rice vermicelli with spicy peanut sauce) which contains satay’s unmistakeable ingredients.30

In 2007, Kopitiam at Lau Pa Sat made the world’s longest satay, which made it into the Guinness Book of Records. It was 140.02 m in length with 150 kg of chicken.31


Author
Suchitthra Vasu




References
1. Lum, M. (1997, March 9). From swords and skewers to restaurants dish. The Straits Times, p. 6; Ling, N. (1983, October 29). Long, lean, tender satay. The Straits Times, p. 5; On the margin. (1952, September 18). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

2. Lum, M. (1997, March 9). From swords and skewers to restaurants dish. The Straits Times, p. 6; Three styles to choose from. (2004, June 6). The Straits Times, p. 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Mowe, R. (Ed.). (1999). Southeast Asian specialties: A culinary journey. Konemann: Culinaria, p. 166. (Call no.: RSING 641.5959 SOU)
3. Mowe, R. (Ed.). (1999). Southeast Asian specialties: A culinary journey. Konemann: Culinaria, p. 166. (Call no.: RSING 641.5959 SOU)
4. Mowe, R. (Ed.). (1999). Southeast Asian specialties: A culinary journey. Konemann: Culinaria, p. 166. (Call no.: RSING 641.5959 SOU); Three styles to choose from. (2004, June 6). The Straits Times, p. 28; Ling, N. (1983, October 29). Long, lean, tender satay. (1983, October 29). The Straits Times, p. 5; Tan, L. L. (1983, January 22). Skewer that meat. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Lum, M. (1997, March 9). From swords and skewers to restaurants dish. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Sheen, B. (2012). Foods of Indonesia. United States of America: KidHaven Press, p. 26. (Call no.: RSEA 641.59598 SHE); Yen-Ho, A. (1995). At the South-east Asian table. New York: Oxford University Press, p. 14. (Call no.: RSING 394.10959 HO-[CUS])
6. Lum, M. (1997, March 9). From swords and skewers to restaurants dish. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG
7. Tan, L. L. (1983, January 22). Skewer that meat. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Sheen, B. (2012). Foods of Indonesia. United States of America: KidHaven Press, p. 25. (Call no.: RSEA 641.59598 SHE); Burton, D. (1996). Savouring the East. London: Faber & Faber, pp. 42–43. (Call no.: R 641.595 BUR); Mowe, R. (Ed.). (1999). Southeast Asian specialties: A culinary journey. Konemann: Culinaria, p. 166. (Call no.: RSING 641.5959 SOU)
9. Lum, M. (1997, March 9). From swords and skewers to restaurants dish. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Hutton, W. (2005). The food of Malaysia. Singapore: Periplus Editions, p. 82. (Call no.: RSEA 641.59595 FOO)
10. Long, lean, tender satay. (1983, October 29). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Hutton, W. (2005). The food of Malaysia. Singapore: Periplus Editions, p. 82. (Call no.: RSEA 641.59595 FOO)
11. Mowe, R. (Ed.). (1999). Southeast Asian specialties: A culinary journey. Konemann: Culinaria, p. 166. (Call no.: RSING 641.5959 SOU); Yap, E. (1995, January 16). Satay seller first Singaporean hawker to franchise grilled meats. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Yu, Y. G. (1976). Nyonya food, satay and padang curry cooking. Singapore: Tiger Press, pp. 62, 64, 66. (Call no.: RCLOS 641.8653 YU)
12. Chan, M. (1987, November 22). An old recipe adds fillip to satay dish. The Straits  Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Mowe, R. (Ed.). (1999). Southeast Asian specialties: A culinary journey. Konemann: Culinaria, p. 166. (Call no.: RSING 641.5959 SOU); Lum, M. (1997, March 9). From swords and skewers to restaurants dish. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Long, lean, tender satay. (1983, October 29). The Straits Times, p. 5; Chan, M. (1987, November 22). An old recipe adds fillip to satay dish. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Mowe, R. (Ed.). (1999). Southeast Asian specialties: A culinary journey. Konemann: Culinaria, p. 166. (Call no.: RSING 641.5959 SOU)
15. Mowe, R. (Ed.). (1999). Southeast Asian specialties: A culinary journey. Konemann: Culinaria, p. 166. (Call no.: RSING 641.5959 SOU); Sheen, B. (2012). Foods of Indonesia. United States of America: KidHaven Press, p. 25. (Call no.: RSEA 641.59598 SHE)
16. Haron Abdul Rahman, H (1987, June 9). Amazing features of the bamboo plant. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Mowe, R. (Ed.). (1999). Southeast Asian specialties: A culinary journey. Konemann: Culinaria, p. 166. (Call no.: RSING 641.5959 SOU); Hutton, W. (2005). The food of Malaysia. Singapore: Periplus Editions, p. 82. (Call no.: RSEA 641.59595 FOO)
18. Mowe, R. (Ed.). (1999). Southeast Asian specialties: A culinary journey. Konemann: Culinaria, p. 166. (Call no.: RSING 641.5959 SOU); Lum, M. (1997, March 9). From swords and skewers to restaurants dish. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Long, lean, tender satay. (1983, October 29). The Straits Times, p. 5; Chan, M. (1987, November 22). An old recipe adds fillip to satay dish. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Mowe, R. (Ed.). (1999). Southeast Asian specialties: A culinary journey. Konemann: Culinaria, p. 166. (Call no.: RSING 641.5959 SOU); Lum, M. (1997, March 9). From swords and skewers to restaurants dish. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Eat. (2005, July 7). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Three styles to choose from. (2004, June 6). The Straits Times, p. 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Solomon, C. (2011). The complete Asian cookbook – Indonesia, Malaysia & Singapore. Australia: Hardie Grant Books, p. 197. (Call no.: RSING 641.595 SOL); Lee, H. C. (2001, July 22). Like satay? Join the club. The Straits Times, p. P8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Mowe, R. (Ed.). (1999). Southeast Asian specialties: A culinary journey. Konemann: Culinaria, p. 166. (Call no.: RSING 641.5959 SOU); Chan, M. (1987, November 22). An old recipe adds fillip to satay dish. The Straits Times, p. 4; Lum, M. (1997, March 9). From swords and skewers to restaurants dish.The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Mowe, R. (Ed.). (1999). Southeast Asian specialties: A culinary journey. Konemann: Culinaria, p. 166. (Call no.: RSING 641.5959 SOU)
24. Satay Club hawkers have to move out by April next year (1994, November 2). The Straits Times, p. 24; Peng's English. (1980, August 24). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Lum, M. (1997, March 9). From swords and skewers to restaurants dish. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Yap, E. (1995, January 16). Satay seller first Singaporean hawker to franchise grilled meats. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Lum, M. (1997, Marc 9). From swords and skewers to restaurants dish. The Straits Times, p. 6; Chan, M. (1987, November 22). An old recipe adds fillip to satay dish. The Straits Times, p. 4; Yap, E. (1995, January 16). Satay seller first Singaporean hawker to franchise grilled meats. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
28. Mowe, R. (Ed.). (1999). Southeast Asian specialties: A culinary journey. Konemann: Culinaria, p. 166. (Call no.: RSING 641.5959 SOU)
29. Sheen, B. (2012). Foods of Indonesia. Farmington Hills, United States of America: KidHaven Press, p. 26. (Call no.: RSEA 641.59598 SHE)
30. Lee, G. B. (1981, August 30). Bottled gravy for satay dish. New Nation, p. 14; Tan, J. (2009, November 14). Gravy train. The Business Times, p. 42. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. Guinness World of Records. (2017). Longest satay. Retrieved 2017, July 24 from Guinness World of Records website: http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/longest-satay; Yummy Record. (2007, July 24). The New Paper, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2017 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Heritage and Culture
Ethnic foods
Skewer cookery
Cookery>>International and regional cooking>>Southeast Asian
Ethnic Communities>>Food
Cookery, Singaporean