My Citizens, few cuisines in the world are as intricately and lavishly spiced as Indonesian, yet it sadly remains a mystery to most people outside of Indonesia and the Netherlands (which used to own a big chunk of this gorgeous archipelago)!
I aim to fix that problem with this fantastic recipe from Bali (the only remaining Hindu island in Indonesia) that is a unique take on satay using a combination of both shrimp and fish! FYI – Bali, being Hindu, also has many pork recipes and I am extremely fond of their roast suckling pig!
Satay (or sate in Indonesian spelling) is a dish of seasoned, skewered and grilled meat, served with a sauce. Sate may consist of diced or sliced chicken, goat, mutton, beef, pork, fish, other meats, or tofu; the more authentic version uses skewers from the midrib of the coconut palm frond, although bamboo skewers are often used. These are grilled or barbecued over a wood or charcoal fire, then served with various spicy seasonings.
Sate originated on the Indonesian island of Java and it is available almost anywhere in Indonesia, where it has become a national dish. It is also popular in many other Southeast Asian countries. In Sri Lanka, it has become a staple of the local diet as a result of the influences from the local Malay community.
Sate is a very popular delicacy in Indonesia; the country’s diverse ethnic groups’ culinary arts have produced a wide variety of satays. In Indonesia, sate is a popular street food and it can be obtained from a traveling satay vendor, from a street-side tent-restaurant, in an upper-class restaurant, or during traditional celebration feasts.
Although both Thailand and Malaysia claim it as their own, its Southeast Asian origin was in Java, Indonesia. There sate was developed from the Indian kebab brought by the Muslim traders. Even India cannot claim its origin, for there it was a legacy of Middle Eastern influence.
A dish with widespread popularity, the origins of sate are unclear. The word “sate” itself is thought to have been derived from Indonesian: sate and Malay: saté or satai, both perhaps of Tamil origin.
From Java (though this is difficult to prove from very few records), sate spread through the Malay Archipelago and, as a consequence, numerous variations of the dish have been developed and exist. By the late 19th century, sate had crossed the Strait of Malacca into neighboring Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. The Dutch also brought this dish as well as many other Indonesian specialties to the Netherlands, thereby influencing Dutch cuisine even to this day.
Meat commonly used includes chicken, lamb, goat, mutton, beef, venison and rabbit; seafoods such as fish, shrimp and squid; or offal such as liver, intestine and tripe.
My version of the dish is based very closely on a recipe from William Wongso’s “Flavors of Indonesia”. I have adapted the fish to shrimp ratio, added in some additional spices and my admittedly brilliant substitution of using smoked peppered mackerel fillets instead of regular mackerel fillet. This adds an additional element of smokiness and spice that make an especially big difference if you are not grilling these over charcoal. The use of lemongrass as a skewer adds an amazingly subtle hint of citrus to the dish!
Battle on – The Generalissimo