A Guide to Satay: Indonesia’s Most Famous Dish

Satay or sate is a famous Indonesian local dish of seasoned meat that is diced or sliced into small pieces, skewered with a thin bamboo stick, grilled on charcoal open fire, and served with savory peanut sauce. Satay is also a popular dish in other South East Asia countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei, and Phillippines. The history of satay can be traced back to Java, where Javanese street vendors adapting the Indian Kebab that is brought by Muslim traders. It is also been said that Arab is the one that has a big influence on the original satay made. The main difference between a kebab and a satay is in the meat, with satay can be made from various types of meat. 

This street dish later become famous as the number of immigrants works in Java increasing, and from Java, satay starts spreading from the Malay Archipelago, and with its diversity of the ethnic group, it produces a wide variety of satay that has its uniqueness. Mainly differs from the spices used, complimenting sauces or even the way its skewered. And so, let’s dig more about satay with our favorite 10 types of this famous dish!

1. Sate Ayam (Chicken Satay)

Sate Ayam
Sate Ayam

First one on the list is Sate Ayam. It is the most common type of satay that sold across Indonesia. You marinate the chicken meat in sweet soy sauce before it goes to the open-flame grill. The next step is to serve it with a spicy peanut sauce or sweet soy sauce and lontong, another Indonesian dish made of compressed rice cake, or with rice. You can easily find this satay from street vendors to fancy restaurants or hotels

2. Sate Maranggi

Sate Maranggi
Sate Maranggi

Second is Sate Maranggi. It originated from Purwakarta, a regency in West Java area. Its made from lamb or beef and marinated with a mixture of sweet soy sauce and several types of spices, such as ginger, coriander, galangal, turmeric, with a little vinegar to give a little sour taste. Maranggi satay is served in sweet soy sauce with pickles, with sliced shallots, diced tomatoes, lontong, or plain rice. 

3. Sate Madura

Sate Madura merchant
Sate Madura

Madura is an island near Java that popularly known as a salt island and its famous Sate Madura. This satay usually made from chicken meat or mutton and served with the black sauce made from Indonesian sweet soy sauce mixed with palm sugar (Gula Jawa), garlic, deep-fried shallots, peanut paste, petis (a kind of shrimp paste), kemiri (candlenut), and salt. Raw thinly sliced shallots and plain sambal are often served as condiments.

4. Sate Taichan

Sate Taichan
Sate Taichan

Fourth is Sate Taichan. It became popular amongst Jakartans in 2016. It is a variation of satay that is made from chicken meat that is roasted without peanut or soy sauce like any other satay. This satay is uniquely served with only sambal and lime juice and only seasoned with salt, lime, and a little bit of chili, and that makes the Sate Taichan usually plain white-colored. You can easily find Sate Taichan in the Senayan area at night time.

5. Sate Padang

Sate Padang
Sate Padang

A specialty satay from Padang cuisine. Sate Padang is the name of three types of satay variants in West Sumatra, which are Sate Padang, Sate Padang Panjang, and Sate Pariaman. You can differentiate them by the color of their sauce. Sate Padang Panjang comes with yellow-colored sauce while Sate Pariaman has red-colored sauce. Of course, they also have different flavors since the sauce made from different ingredients. And the last one, Sate Padang, actually has a mixed flavored from the other two. People prepare the satay from beef or ox-tongue cut into small cubes. Then you boil it in a mixture of lime leaves, lemongrass, coriander, ginger, and turmeric before you top it with the thick yellow sauce that has rich spicy flavors in it. 

6. Sate Kerang (Clam Satay)

sate kerang
Sate Kerang

Next up is Sate Kerang. It is an Indonesian dish that is very famous in Surabaya and Sidoarjo, East Java. The main ingredient is from clam’s meat, but not like other satays that people roast or grill, you just boil the meat and marinate it in lime lives, ginger, sweet soy sauce, and tamarind juice. This satay is usually served together with lontong, soy sauce, and sambal.

7. Sate Buntel (Wrapped Satay)

buntel satay
Sate Buntel

Seventh on the list is Sate Buntel. It is a specialty from Solo or Surakarta, Central Java. People prepare this satay from minced beef or lamb (especially meets around ribs and belly area) and wrapped in by a thin layer of animal fat. With a quite large size, it might resemble you with a middle eastern kebab. People then mix the meat with shallots, garlic, ginger, and cumin, and will give you a unique savory taste.  And just like any other satay, you serve it in sweet soy sauce and peppers after you grill it on charcoal.

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8. Sate Lilit

lilit satay
Sate Lilit

Eighth, we have Sate Lilit. It is a specialty satay from Bali, with lilit in Balinese and Indonesian means “to wrap around”. People make this satay from various types of meats like pork, fish, chicken, beef, even turtle meat. You then mix the meat with shredded coconut, thick coconut milk, lemon juice, shallots, and peppers. Unlike skewers of other satays, the sate lilit uses lemongrass stick as it skewers and the minced meat will be wrapped on the stick before grilled over an open flame.

9. Sate Tegal

tegal satay
Sate Tegal

Next to last, we have Sate Tegal. It originated from Tegal, Slawi, Central Java. People serve it in mutton or lamb, diced, skewed with a bamboo stick, and combined with animal fat. When being grilled, Sate Tegal has its unique smell, also they didn’t marinate the meat with sweet soy sauce, just the meat its. People usually prepare it with sambal kecap, a mixture of sweet soy sauce, chili sauce, shallots, and tomatoes. What differentiates Sate Tegal with other satay is their large piece of meat. You choose the meat from young lamb, making it a very soft satay.

10. Sate Bandeng

satay bandeng
Sate Bandeng

Last but not least, sate bandeng! It is a traditional cuisine from Banteng Province, Indonesia, sate bandeng is from bandeng (milkfish) without its thorn. After that, you season the meat and then put back into the skin while you skew and grill it on charcoal. You typically serve Banten’s sate bandeng without fine bones, and usually, the sellers place their satay in a glassy, display window. Made so that the satay can last long because you don’t expose it to much air. Sate Bandeng can last up to 3 days at room temperature and can be longer if put in the refrigerator.

    So, what are you waiting for? Before your mouth becomes too watery, let’s take a trip to find the nearby and famous satay-sellers in Jakarta. There are also lots of other variants of satay in Indonesia that you can explore! Don’t forget to bring some friends or companions to make it more fun!

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