A delicious dish that can be whipped up in just minutes.
Satay is a peanut sauce.
Sate is one of the five national dishes of Indonesia, and appears to have originated in Java with Tamil traders in the early nineteenth century. While Tamil people had been trading with the Indonesian islands since the eleventh century, there was an influx of Tamils in the 1830s, lured there to work on plantations owned by the Dutch colonialists.
The skewers sold on the streets were mutton or beef, and while their point of origin was India, the presence of coriander and cumin in many recipes points to these kebabs possibly having Middle Eastern heritage too. In Indonesia, the name ‘sate’ refers to the skewers rather than the peanut sauce, and there are many regional variations that are not served with peanut sauce. Mutton sate is usually served with kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), and shrimp sate with nothing at all. Where a peanut sauce is used, the flavourings still vary; the peanut paste might be mixed with sweet soybean sauce, kecap manis, palm sugar, garlic, deep fried shallots or shrimp paste.
By the end of the nineteenth century, sate had become a hit in Malaysia, too, and quickly spread across South-East Asia. The Kuala Lumpur suburb of Kacang has become rightfully famous for their world-beating take on it. In Singapore, ‘satay’ became so popular that a group of satay traders and their waterside park location was one of the biggest tourist attractions prior to that Merlion fountain. Here, peanut sauce was de rigeur and the default sauce for sate.
Satay also took root back in the homeland of Indonesia’s colonial rulers. In the Netherlands, you’ll find the sauce sold in jars at the supermarket and slathered over 2 am serves of fries. Some snobs might look down on satay sauce from a jar or, even worse, made with peanut butter, but peanut pastes have a proud history predating satay sauces by some three thousand years.
This hack peanut satay sauce was invented in 2021 in Australasia as something to make on the plate as you are reheating last night’s chicken skewers or cold sausage in the microwave. Obviously, it is not intended to replace the lovingly crafted original. The goal was a quick, fast recipe that would produce the right amount of sauce for just one serve, with minimal washing up. It also only uses four pantry staples, making it perfect for all your late-night snacking needs.
Serve it with a lime wedge, if you’ve got limes about, as a little acidity is welcome. If you don’t have chilli jam, sweet chilli sauce, kecap manis or Chinese doubanjiang chilli bean paste can stand in. A little tamarind paste and grated palm sugar are also nice.
Prep 10 mins
Cook 6 mins
- 3 chicken tenderloins
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil
- 300g last night's leftover steamed jasmine rice (which is pressed into the takeaway container)
- ½ Lebanese cucumber, cut into chunks
- coriander leaves, to serve
Cheat's twenty-second satay sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon desiccated coconut
- 2 teaspoons chilli jam
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
Thread each chicken tenderloin onto a metal or soaked bamboo skewer. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken skewers and cook for 2 minutes each side or until cooked through.
While the chicken cooks, get your plate ready. Press last night's leftover rice into the takeaway container, then turn out onto a board and cut into cubes. Place the cubes on a serving plate with the cucumber and coriander leaves.
To make the satay sauce, place all the ingredients into a small microwave-safe bowl. Stir to combine. Microwave on high for 10-20 seconds or until heated through. Add 2 tablespoons boiling water and stir to combine (if you like your sauce runnier just add a touch more water).
Add the skewers to the plate and drizzle with the satay sauce.
Tip: Can't get tenderloins? Place breast fillet between two pieces of plastic wrap and use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound until 1cm thick.
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