Indonesian Beef Satay with Peanut Sauce

Indonesian Beef Satay with Peanut Sauce
Eric Wolfinger


To Marinate:

  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh lemongrass (from 1 medium-small stalk; bottom bulb portion only, with tough outer leaves removed)
  • 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 small shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • Chubby 1/2-inch (1.25-cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce, regular or gluten-free
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as peanut or safflower
  • 1 ¬Ĺ teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

To Cook and Serve:

  • Generous 1 pound (450 g) top sirloin
  • About 2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as peanut or safflower
  • 1 cup (240 ml) Indonesian Peanut Sauce (recipe below)
  • Sliced Fresno or jalape√Īo chile, for serving (optional)


  1. In a shallow dish, soak 8 to 10 wood or bamboo skewers in water to cover for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, to make the marinade, in a mini food processor, combine the lemongrass and sugar and process until a paste forms. Add the shallots, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, oil, coriander, and cayenne (use the larger amount if you like heat) and process until an oatmeal-like texture forms. Transfer to a shallow bowl. Alternatively, in a mortar with a pestle, crush together the lemongrass and sugar until a paste forms. Add the shallot, garlic, ginger, coriander, and cayenne and continue to work the ingredients together to form a rough paste. Transfer to a shallow dish and stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, and oil.
  3. Trim off any gristle from the beef, then cut into 3/4-inch (2-cm) cubes. Add the beef to the marinade and mix to coat well. Thread 4 or 5 cubes onto each skewer. Set aside at room temperature to marinate for 1 to 2 hours.
  4. Light a medium-high fire in a charcoal or gas grill. Arrange the skewers directly over the fire and grill, turning the skewers a few times and basting as needed with the oil, until the beef is lightly charred all over but still medium within, about 7 minutes. Serve at once with the peanut sauce and chile (if using).
Indonesian Peanut Sauce

Makes 1 cup

The sauce can be served right away or refrigerated for up to 1 week

  • 1/3 cup (75 g) unsalted creamy peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) water
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh lemongrass (from bottom bulb portion only, with tough outer leaves removed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as peanut or safflower
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) chopped shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (from 1 small clove)
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2-inch (1.25-cm) piece fresh galangal or ginger
  • 1 fresh kaffir (makrut) lime leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut milk
  1. In a small bowl, stir together the peanut butter and water, mixing well. Set aside. Using a mortar and pestle, the back of a knife and a cutting board, or a mini food processor, crush the lemongrass with the salt until a coarse paste forms. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the oil over low heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened and translucent but not brown, about 10 minutes. Add the peanut butter mixture, raise the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Add the brown sugar, lemon juice, galangal, lime leaf, and cayenne and stir to combine.
  3. Turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes to infuse the flavors. Discard the galangal and the lime leaf. Stir in the coconut milk and lemongrass paste. Remove from heat and let cool completely (the flavor builds as the sauce rests). Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt and cayenne if needed. Serve at room temperature or transfer to a tightly capped jar and refrigerate for up to 1 week.


Excerpted from UNFORGETTABLE The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade LIfe by Emily Kaiser Thelin.  Copyright © 2017 by Emily Kaiser Thelin. Reprinted with permission from Grand Central Life & Style.  All rights reserved.

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