What makes Satay the preferred dish for those foodies who dwell in the limelight of the charcoal grill?
In Bali, Satay has become as ubiquitous as rice. The range of permutations and combinations for the discerning and not so discerning customers is unparalleled in the archipelago and beyond. It featured at number 14 in the world’s 50 most delicious foods by a poll conducted by CNN Go in 2011. Perhaps it is now in the top 10!
It is claimed that in the 19th century Indian traders brought Satay to Java, where it became a popular street food. But it did not originate in India. In fact, Satay in its numerous formats was available from India westwards across the Middle East onto Greece. However, it was usually grilled using metal skewers whereas in Indonesia, bamboo was preferred. The combination of bamboo and grilled meat is what gave it that special flavour.
Close relatives of Satay are Yakitori (Japan), Kǎoròu Chuàn (China), Shish Kebab (Turkey), Shashlik (Caucasus), Sosatie (South Africa, and Seekh and Boti Kebab (India).
Initially when Satay arrived in Asia the basic meats were lamb, chicken and beef. The Thai recipe introduced pork.
Meanwhile in Java, beef, chicken and fish became quite popular.
Satay ayam, Satay kambing, Satay maranggi, Satay kerang, Satay lilit, Satay buntel, Satay ikan and Satay babi are part of the mouth-watering recipes that have become the stuff of culinary legend on the isle of Bali. Add to this the range of condiments starting with peanut sauce and the mind numbing chilli sauce and it becomes a memorable encounter with Satay in all its delicious variants.
Even vegans now have numerous options – Satay tofu, Satay mixed vegetables etc.
From metal skewers to bamboo sticks and now to lemon grass sticks, Satay has arrived at our table across continents, cultures and cuisines. It is here to stay. And what better place than Bali, which offers the complete Satay experience with famed Balinese hospitality.