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Celebrity chef and Malaysia Kitchen Australia ambassador Poh Ling Yeow shares her recipe and tips for making authentic Malaysian satay with an aromatic peanut sauce.

Poh’s tip: Please don’t be deterred by the amount of oil required to cook the sauce in, for without it, the sauce will not develop and caramelize properly. If you are concerned, you may scoop some of the oil out after the sauce is cooked.

Ingredients – serves 8-10

Homemade Peanut Sauce

1-2 Tbs tamarind paste from a jar

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 tsp salt + more to balance at very end

1L water

2 Tbs lime juice + more to balance at very end

500g salted, roasted, crushed peanuts

Rempah (wet spice paste)

20 dried, long red chillies, deseeded, soaked in boiling water until soft, drained and chopped

2 cm (thickest part) galangal, peeled, thinly sliced, chopped

2 stalks lemongrass, thinly sliced (use pale part only and remove any dry outer layers)

8 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced

15 small red eschallots or 3 medium Spanish onions, peeled and sliced

200 ml vegetable oil

Chicken or Beef Satays

Skewers soaked for an hour

2 kg chicken thigh fillets, cleaned of sinew and fat OR 2 kg chuck steak

Marinade

2 cm (thickest part) galangal, peeled, thinly sliced, chopped

8 stalks lemongrass, thinly sliced

2 Tbs ground turmeric

4 clove garlic, peeled, sliced

10 small red eschallots or 2 medium Spanish onions, peeled and sliced

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 tsp salt

1/2 tsp dark soy

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 Tbs ground coriander

2 Tbs ground cumin

Method

1 To make peanut sauce, blend rempah ingredients until you achieve a fine paste. Set aside.

2. Pour rempah into a heavy bottom saucepan or wok and bring to a medium heat. Stir continuously to make sure the bottom isn’t catching and cook until there is very little steam rising from the sauce. At this stage, the oil will have split from the spice paste, caramelising into a lovely dark red and developing a beautiful fragrance.

3. Add water and bring to boil. Add tamarind, lime, sugar and only 1 tsp of salt and half the crushed peanuts. Bring to boil again, remove from heat and set aside until required. Add the remaining nuts and give sauce a stir just before for a nice bit of crunch. At the very end, taste. If you feel something is lacking, the sauce just needs some balancing with more seasoning or a squeeze of lime juice. Set aside.

4. Cutting the meat for a satay is very difficult to describe because it’s not a straight slice or dice. What you want to achieve is something like an elongated triangle that is cut against the grain, no more than 2 cm wide at its widest, 1 cm thick and 3-4 cm long, irregular in shape but similar in size. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate in a large mixing bowl.

5. To start the marinade, blend all marinade ingredients to a fine paste.

6. Tip all the meat and marinade into a snaplock bag. Massage meat through bag, ensuring to coat every piece of meat with the marinade, push all the air out and seal. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.

7. Following the length of each piece of meat, pierce evenly through the centre making sure each piece is sitting flatly. Thread about 3-4 pieces onto each skewer. The end appearance of each skewer will be a thin thread of meat which basically has 2 flat sides, making the satay easy to turn and cook. Grill over coals or on a bbq until meat is slightly charred and cooked through.

8. To serve, divide peanut sauce into individual bowls and place satays, pineapple, onion, cucumber and rice at the centre of the table to share.

Poh’s tip:In Australia, satay is most often served as an entrée. In Malaysia, it’s eaten as a meal in itself and the classic accompaniments are cucumber, Spanish onion, cubed, pressed rice and something my mum always added, pineapple. These are designed to be dipped into the peanut sauce also, refreshing the palate between bites of the meaty morsels.