Saté or Satay

SatayChicken or beef saté is a very popular Indonesian snack or appetizer, which can also be used to “dress up” a Bami or Nasi Goreng dish.

Meat chuncks are marinated in a (warm) marinade of several spices that include ground coriander and cumin seeds. I usually prepare the marinade a day ahead, and skewer the meat on the day of grilling.

Saté can be served with a hot peanut sauce (pindasambal) or hot soy sauce (sambal ketjap), but is often eaten without any because the marinade tastes good on its own.

I got the following recipe from my mom and it’s always a hit when served at parties or dinners.

  • 4 lb skinless chicken or beef, cut in cubes
  • 1/4 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp coriander (ketoembar)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (djiera)
  • 1/2 tsp galanga (laos) powder
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

Wash and cut the meat in chunks of 1 – 1.5 inches. Heat the oil, adding onion and garlic. Stir for a few minutes (don’t brown it), then add all other ingredients and cook until it bubbles. Turn off the heat, let the marinade cool for a few minutes then pour over the meat, turning it over until all pieces are covered. Immediately refrigerate, leaving overnight or just for an hour or two, before skewering. (The bamboo skewers are soaked in water to avoid burning during grilling.)

Depending on the length of the skewers, put 2 to 4 pieces of meat on and gently squeeze with one hand to make the saté look like it’s made from one piece of meat. This helps to keep the meat together as it will shrink during grilling, making it twist around when turning the skewers over during grilling.

Grill on each side for a few minutes on medium heat on a charcoal or gasgrill, or in the oven. Cover the skewer ends with foil if working with flames (gasgrill or broiler). It is more work, but you’ll get the best flavor from a charcoal grill. Just make sure the chicken (or pork) meat is fully cooked (but not dry).

Ready to serve your satés with ‘pindasambal’ or ‘sambal ketjap?’ Here’s the recipe for peanut sauce.


Use plastic or latex gloves when skewering the meat to keep your fingers from smelling like saté hours or days later. I do this any time when I am handling raw meat of seafood.

Depending on your purpose, you could use short skewers with only 2 pieces of meat for appetizers, or 4 pieces to complement a meal.