World Food Spot 7: Satay

on Thursday, June 28, 2007

This is Pakcik. That is a name of endearment meaning "uncle". I have known him and his wife for more than 30 years. They run a satay stall near my home and my family and I must have consumed and enjoyed thousands of sticks of satay over those years. He can actually remember me as a small kid, watched me grow up, remember when I first started work, remember when I got married and he has seen me grow sideways too.

I write this post with a tinge of sadness because he and his wife retired last month. He has definately earned his retirement but I will miss him as he has been practically a timeless institution in my life. Of course, I will also miss his delicious satay. Nevertheless, I wish Pakcik and his wife many happy years in retirement.

Satay consists basically of three flattened, marinated pieces of meat which are skewered and then grilled over a charcoal or wood fire. A key characteristic of the dish is the prominant use of tumeric and ginger in the meat marinade. The meat used in predominantly Islamic Malaysia is commonly that of chicken or beef. Non-muslims, especially Chinese in Penang and Melaka have a variant which uses pork as a meat and pineapple in the marinade and sauce.


Once cooked, the satay is served with a peanut based spicy dipping sauce. Also common accompaniments include rice steamed in pandanus leaves (called ketupat) and sliced cucumber and onions.

As with all barbequed meats, it has a powerfully pleasing aroma. Well cooked, its meat is tender and both sweet and savory to the taste. The spicy peanut sauce is also heady with spices and some people like the sauce so much they will eat it with rice.

The origin of satay is hotly disputed and shrouded in the mists of time. Most likely, the original concept could have come from Chinese or Arabian merchants as early as the 14th Century. The modern form of satay is likely to have originated in Indonesia but it has become a common sight in many Southeast Asian countries.

If you get a chance, try this dish. The tumeric and ginger marinade will seduce you. The smoky barbeque flavour will evoke a sense of mystery and for a squirrel, nothing beats a peanut based spicy dipping sauce.


(All pictures by LGS)

18 comments:

Odat said...

I bet you'll miss them...and that dish sounds wonderful!! I'm sure I can find some in NYC...I'm going to try...
Peace

Gledwood said...

O wow Satay is fantastic... I bet those are great... looking at that I'm so hungry now... do you eat Halal food? Last time we had satay sticks I refused to touch the prawn ones and ~ haha! ~ everyone who did got ill! I grew up not eating shellfish etc and it's saved me from food poisoning several times ... having said that I bet you're going to tell me you're Chinese Malay! (Hope you don't mind me asking... I'm just interested...)
all the best

gleds

Janice Thomson said...

When I was working there was a coffee shop next door that finally closed down. It left a hole in my life. There were lots of other shops but this one had such ambiance and the owners had a special caring and personal interaction with their customers. So I know you will miss your uncle's shop greatly... but it does teach one the impermanence of everything.

Gledwood said...

I made you my featured blog of the day... fantastic post.

I am still really hungry.

Would you email me 20 or so chicken ones with a nice salad, some mix vegetable fried rice and a bottle of the local brew? Thanks!

leslie said...

Thank you for this post. We have a restaurant, Seri Melaka, here in Tucson, Arizona, US. Always a wonderful experience. Their menu says, "Selamat Menjamu Selera", wishing you a fine dining experience. It is. If it were to go away, I would miss it deeply.

That hardly compares to the space that Pakcik's retirement must mean to you.
My good wishes for Pakcik and his wife.
Now you will have to learn to make satay...

daysgoby said...

MMM!

I love satay - and I'll bet those are FABULOUS!

meggie said...

Luckily, we can get Satay readily in Australia. It is very popular, & most delicious!
We are lucky here, in that we have foods from most cultures from both the northern coutries, mediterranean, & south East Asian, as well as the lovely Pacific dishes.
Perhaps this is why I too, seem to have grown widthwise!

Molly said...

Drool, drool!

Lorraine said...

That is so sweet Lone G. I'm sure they appreciate your thoughtfullness, I've had satay and I love it :)

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

odat,
If you can find a Malaysian or an Indonesian restaurant in NYC, they may have it. However, they can be expensive and sometimes the quality not really the same. For example, there was a place in U.K. selling it for 1 pound sterling per stick. In Malaysia, you would get more than 15 sticks for the same price. Hope you find a good one.

gleds,
Spot on, mate. I am indeed Chinese Malaysian and therefore do not just eat halal food. Strangely, though, I don't like chicken meat except when it is done in satay.
Thanks for making this the blog of the day. I really wish we could just go out and have a meal together. Take care. Go forward.

janice,
I can relate to that. It is nice to have gone beyond the vendor-customer relationship.

leslie,
My,my. I do believe you have something approaching a genuine Malaysian restaurant. "Selamat menjamu selera" is a very refined way of speaking. Here we usually just say, "Jom makan." or "Come, let's eat."

daysgoby,
Mmmmm. Indeed they are fabulous! Thanks for teaching me about squirrels in church. I can see myself using that.

meggie,
It's wonderful how cosmopolitan Australia is nowadays. I believe variety is indeed the spice of life.

molly,
Hahaha. Sorry to make you drool.

Lorraine,
Wow. I guess satay is a lot more international than I realised. It seems many have tried it. Good.

Top cat said...

I hope he and his wife enjoy their well deserved retirement.
tc

mago said...

It looks good and I am sure it tastes good.
I hope pakcik and his wife will have many years to come. And hopefully his successor will be as good as he is - years of experience!

Ruth said...

Yum...they sure look good. I just love that spicy peanut sauce and it goes well with everything!!.lol

Cheryl said...

I love Satay. I'm sure this authentic version is better than anything I've ever had.

Open Grove Claudia said...

love satay... absolutely love it... They make tofu satay here which is also wonderful! Any recipes to share?

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

tc,
Thanks. I hope they enjoy their retirement too.

mago,
Thanks. I believe they will enjoy their retirement. They're the sort that will kep active. Unfortunately, we have tried their successor's satay. If Pakcik's satay was 10, the current satay is only 7.

ruth,
for a squirrel, it had me at peanut!

cheryl,
Glad you have tried it and liked it.

claudia,
Tofu satay? Strictly a Denver recipe,I think.

CS said...

I love food from street vendors. IThe marinade sounds good - I couldn't have pork or beef or chicken, but I bet it would be good on shrimp. I just grilled shrimp on skewers tonight in a lime/beer marinade. Very good.

evalinn said...

Sounds and looks wonderful!

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