Sate is one of the favourite street foods in Bali and Java. Sold from smokey street-side carts, this snack of bbq meat on bamboo sticks needs no advertising, you can smell it a block away. In Bali and Java sate can include many ingredients including ayam (chicken), kambing (goat), sapi (beef), kelinci (rabbit) and others. The Balinese love sate penyu (turtle), which officially can only be sold at ceremonies, but in practice is sold at other times as well.
Some familiar sauces are used, particulary kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), or peanut sauce. For sate ayam peanut sauce is used. Sate kambing uses soya sauce, garlic and chili. Sate sapi uses soy or peanut sauce and kelinci peanut sauce. In general the sauces used are very similar to those in Bali.
Tukang sate (sate vendors) are easy to spot, because of the billowing smoke emanating from their carts. They often use an electric fan to feed the glowing coconut husks with air. A more traditional method is to fan the glowing embers with a kipas (hand held bamboo fan).
Where to buy sate:
In the morning you can find a tukang sate at the pasar pagi (morning market) in Kuta. Balinese love sate lilit (mashed up fish and coconut), which is then pressed onto a lemongrass stick with spices, roasted and served with salt and chili. The pasar pagi closes at around 8.30am. During daylight hours you might look for warungs that are frequented by locals, such as some of the ones in Tuban, if there is an abundance of smoke, sate can’t be far away.
In Seminyak there is a sate vendor across from Bintang supermarket, who works from around 5.30pm and finishes around 11pm. All these guys keep their own hours so there’s no exact time on when they are around. When ordering sate from a vendor be sure to ask what kind of sate they serve, as its usually only 1 kind of meat. Ask the price and then tell him how many sticks you want. Sate is usually served with longtong (rolled and compacted rice). The local pasar malam (night market) will usually hve a sate vendor.
How much does sate cost?
A ballpark figure on sate prices is a as follows. Ten pieces of sate ayam (chicken) without longtong 4,000rp. You should add 1,000-2,000rp more for sapi (beef), kelinci (rabbit), kambing (goat) and penyu (turtle).
Sate sapi is roughly the same price as kambing and turtle, 5,000rp for 10 pieces. Turtle sate has a deliciously complex sauce that is not padas (spicy hot). It takes about 10 ingredients to make including corriander (cilantro) seeds.
History of sate
Satay (also written saté) is a dish that may have originated in Sumatra or Java, Indonesia, but also popular in many other Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, and Thailand, as well as in The Netherlands which was influenced through its former colonies. In Malaysia, satay is a very popular dish especially during celebrations and it can be found throughout the country. A close analog in Japan is yakitori. Additionally, shish kebab from Turkey and sosaties from South Africa are also very similar to satay.
Although recipes and ingredients vary from country to country, satay generally consists of chunks or slices of meat on bamboo or coconut leaf spine skewers, which are grilled over a wood or charcoal fire. Turmeric is often used to marinate satay and gives it a characteristic yellow color. Meats used include beef, mutton, pork, venison, fish, shrimp, chicken and even the cow stomach. Some have also used more exotic meats, such as crocodile and snake meat. It may be served with a spicy peanut sauce dip, or peanut gravy, slivers of onions and cucumbers, and ketupat. Pork satay can be served in a pineapple based satay sauce or cucumber relish. An Indonesian version uses a soy-based dip.
Origins of sate (satay):
Some allege that satay was invented by Chinese immigrants who sold the skewered barbecue meat on the street. Their argument is that the word satay means “triple stacked” (三疊) in Amoy dialect, and indeed, satay is often made with three flat lozenges of meat.
On the other hand, it is also possible that it was invented by Malay or Javanese street vendors influenced by the Arabian kebab. The explanation draws on the fact that satay only became popular after the early 19th Century, also the time of the arrival of a major influx Arab immigrants in the region. The satay meats popularly used by Indonesians and Malaysians and , mutton and beef, are also traditionally favoured by Arabs and are not as popular in China as are pork and chicken.
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Known as sate in Indonesian (and pronounced similar to the English), satay is a widely renowned dish in almost all regions of Indonesia. As a result, many variations have been developed.
•Sate Tegal, sate of goat meat, the goat is usually a yearling kid or even a 5 month old kid which spawn an acronym common in Tegal – balibul (literally acronym of just 5 month). The skewer has 4 chunks, being two pieces of meat on the top then one piece of fat and closed with another piece of meat. Grilled over a long metal griller fired with wood charcoal. The grill is between medium and well done, however it is possible to ask for medium rare. Sometimes the fat piece can be replaced with liver or heart or kidney piece. The unit sold is a kodi, twenty skewers. Half a kodi is only for children, adults may consume more than 1 and half kodies. Prior to grilling, there is no marinate as some people believed to be necessary. On serving, it is accompanied by touch deeped in sweet soya sauce (medium sweetness, slightly thinned with boiled water), sliced fresh chilli, sliced raw shallots (eschalot), quartered green red tomatoes. Steamed rice sometimes garnished with fried shallots.
•Satay Madura, originating in the island of Madura, near Java, is certainly the most famous variant known among Indonesians. Most often made from mutton or chicken, the distinctive characteristic of the recipe is the black sauce made from soy sauce mixed with palm sugar, garlic, shallots, peanut paste, fermented shrimp paste (petis), pecans, and salt. It is mainly eaten with rice and venison curry.
•Satay Lilit is a satay variant from Bali, a famous tourist destination. Unlike most varieties of satay, it is made from minced beef, chicken, fish, pork, or even turtle meat, which is then mixed with grated coconut, thick coconut milk, lemon juice, shallots, and pepper. Wound around bamboo, sugar cane or lemon grass sticks, it is then grilled on charcoal.
•Satay Padang, a dish from Padang city and surrounding area in West Sumatra, made from cow or goat offal boiled in spicy broth, which is then grilled. Its main characteristic is yellow sauce made from rice flour mixed with spicy offal broth, turmeric, ginger, garlic, coriander, galanga root, cumin, curry powder and salt. It is further separated into two sub-variants, the Pariaman and the Padang Panjang, which differ according to taste and the composition of their yellow sauces.
•Saté Susu, or Milky Satay, a tasty dish commonly found in Java and Bali, grilled spicy cow breast with distinctive ‘milky’ taste, served with hot chili sauce.
•Satay Makassar, from a region in Southern Sulawesi, is made from beef and cow offal marinated in sour carambola sauce. It has a unique sour and spicy taste. Unlike most satays, it is served without sauce.
•Satay Meranggi, commonly found in Purwakarta and Bandung, two towns in Java, is made from beef marinated in a special paste. The two most important elements of the paste are kecombrang (Nicolaia speciosa) flower buds and ketan (sweet rice) flour. Nicola buds brings a unique smell and liquorice-like taste. It is served with ketan cake (juadah).
•Satay Kulit found in Sumatra is a crisp satay made from marinated chicken skin.
Satay in Malaysia can be found throughout every state in the country. Besides restaurants that serve satays, one can find hawkers selling satay in food courts and Pasar malam. While the popular type of satay are usually beef and chicken satays, different regions of Malaysia have developed their own unique variations of satay.
•Kajang town in Selangor is famous for its Sate Kajang (sate is satay in Malay) and it has earned a reputation over the years as the “Satay Town” of Malaysia. Compared to satay found elsewhere in Malaysia, this variety offers thicker, more generous slices of meat.
•In Johor, especially in Muar, satay is served for breakfast in the morning.
•Satay Endut in Ipoh is so popular among the Malays because Endut himself was the founder. The best thing about it is the thick smooth gravy.
•Pork satay can be found in Malacca and Sarawak. Instead of the traditional peanut sauce it features a pineapple-based spicy sauce.
•Satay celup or steamboat satay, which is also unique to Malacca, is a variation of yong tau foo but not really satay. It consists of raw meat, seafood or vegetables on skewers that are dipped into a boiling spicy sauce to cook during the meal.
•Malaysia Airlines serves satay to its First and Business Class passengers as an appetizer on many of its long-haul flights. AirAsia, Malaysia’s second carrier as well as premier budget carrier also serves satay on its flights.
Satay was one of the earliest foods to be associated with Singapore since the 1940s. Previously sold on makeshift roadside stalls and pushcarts, concerns over public health and the rapid development of the city led to a major consolidation of satay stalls at Beach Road in the 1950s, which came to be collectively called the Satay Club. They were moved to the Esplanade Park in the 1960s, where they grew to the point of being constantly listed in tourism guides.
Open only after dark with an al fresco concept, the Satay Club was to define the way satay is popularly served in Singapore since then, although they are also commonly found across the island in most hawker stalls, modern food courts, and upscale restaurants at any time of the day. Moved several times around the vicinity of Esplanade Park due to development and land reclamation, the outlets finally left the area permanently to Clarke Quay in the late 1990s to make way for the building of the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay.
Several competing satay hotspots have since emerged, with no one being able to lay claim to the reputation the Satay Club had at the Esplanade. While the name has been transferred to the Clarke Quay site, several stalls has been noted to have moved to Sembawang in the north of the city. Equally famous are the satay stalls which opened at Lau Pa Sat, particularly popular with tourists. Served only at night when Boon Tat Street is closed from vehicular traffic and the stalls and tables occupy the street, it mimics the open-air dining style of previous establishments.
Other notable outlets include the ones at Newton Food Centre, East Coast Park Seafood Centre and Toa Payoh Central.
The common types of satay sold in Singapore include Satay Ayam (chicken satay), Satay Lembu (beef satay), Satay Kambing (mutton satay), Satay Perut (beef intestine), and Satay Babat (beef tripe).
Singapore’s national carrier, Singapore Airlines, also serves satay to its First and Raffles Class passengers as an appetizer.
After satay was brought into China, only the spicy characteristic was kept. Chinese mix and triturate peanut, white sesame, fish, dry shrimp, coconut, garlic, Welsh onion, mustard, chili, yellow ginger, herbs, lilac, dry Mandarin orange skin and pepper, and then add salt and oil. The product is a paste called ‘沙茶醬’, wihch is less spicy but more sweet than South-Asian satay. It is a paste often used in Chaozhou, Shantou and the Sounthern part of Fujian. It may be added to fire with beef or used in hotpot.
In Hong Kong, ‘satay’ (沙爹醬）means the original South-Asian dish while ‘沙茶醬’ means the Chinese counterpart.