Spice Island: Singapore Satay

The tiny Southeast Asian island-country of Singapore owes much of its history and ethnically diverse cuisine to piquant spices and herbs.

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Singapore SatayServes 4 to 6

You won’t go far in Singapore without encountering stands hawking satay, a Malaysian appetizer of skewered barbecued meat served with a spicy peanut sauce. There, vendors fan the flames over open-air grills and serve fresh, hot chicken, beef, and pork satay. This recipe comes courtesy of the Singapore Tourism Board and Singapore chef Violet Oon.

• 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, beef, or pork
• 1/3 cup honey
• 1/2 cup water
• Juice and pulp of one lime
• 2 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 2 stalks fresh lemongrass (or 2 teaspoons dried lemongrass)
• 2 ounces galangal (or substitute gingerroot)
• 1 fresh red chile
• 1 large onion, peeled
• 4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Peanut Sauce 

• 1 stalk lemongrass (or 1 teaspoon dried lemongrass)
• 1/2 ounce galangal (or substitute gingerroot)
• 8 dried Thai chiles, soaked in warm water
• 3 cloves garlic
• 1/4 onion, peeled
• 1/4 cup vegetable oil
• 1 cup toasted peanuts, finely ground in a coffee mill or with a mortar and pestle
• 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
• 1/4 cup honey
• 2 ounces lime juice
• 2 cups water
• 3/4 teaspoon salt

1. Cut the chicken, beef, or pork into 1/2-inch cubes.
2. Thread the meat on skewers and spread out in a shallow pan. Set aside.
3. To make the marinade, heat the honey and water over low heat. Add the lime juice and pulp, coriander, and salt; stir and set aside.
4. In a food processor or blender, grind the lemongrass, galangal, chile, onions, and oil, then add the wet mixture.
5. Stir well, then pour over the skewered meat and marinate for at least 6 hours.
6. To make the peanut sauce, puree the lemongrass, galangal, chiles, garlic, and onion in a food processor or blender.
7. Heat the oil in a skillet, then add the spicy mixture, cooking for 1 minute, until fragrant.
8. Add the remaining ingredients and boil the mixture, stirring often, for 15 minutes, or until the sauce becomes creamy.
9. Grill the marinated, skewered meat until cooked through and serve with the spicy peanut sauce as a dip.

Laurel Kallenbach writes from her Boulder, Colorado, home about travel, herbal medicine, and holistic health.