Malaysian Satay and Satay Sauce

Satay is Malaysia’s national dish and it is actually quite easy to recreate at home. The Thai and Indonesians have their own version of satay but they are quite different from the Malaysian version.  The Malaysian version is sweeter than the Indonesian version and the recipes seems to have more spices and heavier use of lemongrass and fresh turmeric. Our peanut satay sauce is thicker and richer than that in Thailand or Indonesia. At the end of the day, it is the flavour that you grew up eating that you tend to prefer. This recipe is for our typical Malaysian Satay. The meat needs to be marinated in the spice mix, at least overnight, to achieve the depth of flavour and Satay Sauce is the thing that makes the dish.

In Malaysia, satay is usually served with cucumber wedges, red onion wedges and ketupat which is are compressed rice cakes made in a container made of woven coconut leaves. All these are dipped into the satay sauce.

Kajang in Selangor used to be the place for satay, but nowadays, you can find good satay in lots of places. Just ask the locals for their favourite stall.

Malaysian Satay and Satay Sauce

Note: When you thread the skewers, it might help to wear gloves as the turmeric and spices might stain your hands.


400g Chicken, cut into thin 1 inch strips

400g Beef, cut into thin 1 inch strips and then into 1inch long pieces, which makes it easier for skewereing. You can use any of the more tender cuts of meat like feather, rump or sirloin. Don’t use stewing or chuck steak as that will be too tough.

Satay Meat Marinade

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp turmeric powder

2 tsp ground fennel

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

10 shallots, blend

6 cloves garlic, blend

1 tsp belacan granules

Bamboo skewers soaked in water to prevent burning

Satay Sauce Recipe

8-9 dried chillies, soaked in water

2  stalks lemon grass, lightly bruised

1 thumb sized piece galangal, crushed

3 candlenuts

Blend all the above and combine with

2 tsp belacan granules

1 cup roasted peanuts, crushed to breadcrumbs

1/2 cup tamarind juice, made with soaking assam/ tamarind in warm water and sieved

1 cups water

1/2 cup coconut milk

Salt to taste

1 tbsp sugar or to taste


Blend the garlic and shallots and combine the spices. Then add all the other ingredients.

Marinade the meat in this mixture for at least 2 hours or better if it is left overnight in the fridge.

Skewer the meat onto the bamboo skewers, don’t pack the meat too closely together to enable the satay to cook quickly and evenly.

For the best flavour, cook this over a charcoal grill or alternatively you can just grill it in the oven or on a griddle pan.

Baste the satay with a stalk of lemongrass, that has been bashed to resemble a brush, and oil while grilling.

To make the Satay Sauce:

Fry the blended spices and belacan granules until fragrant. (Probably about 10-12 minutes)

Add the tamarind juice and coconut milk. Add the crushed peanuts. Simmer until the sauce thickens and season to taste. If it is too dry, add a bit more water.

You can make a large batch of the satay sauce and use it as a dressing for the gado gado salad.

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