Last Sunday, my dutch friend Michael invited me to an event at Mandarin Oriental in downtown KL. It was unsuprisingly glamorous, and the food served were scrumptious. One food that I really enjoyed was the beef and chicken Satay, especially with the hotel's very special spicy peanut sauce. Naturally, I went to Michael and recommended him to try some of it. I was shocked by his reply.
The famous satay...not from Malaysia?
"Oh the sate? Yeah I've tried it. We have it back in my country too...almost everywhere!" Michael replied.
I was stunned by his in-depth knowledge about satay.
According to Michael, Satay or sate is originated from Indonesia, specially Javanese, where
spread out across Indonesia. It was brought back to Europe by Dutch
during colonialism era. Over there, it is commonly made of beef, chicken with spicy
peanut sauce and some other ingredients (which I couldn't remember). Sate can be found almost everywhere in Holland, in their restaurants and supermarkets.
"Oh no wonder la..." I awkwardly replied.
It got me thinking. Most of us Malaysians believe that Satay is one of our unique national dishes, invented here in our soil; but we were wrong.
Satay in Bali, Indonesia
So what is Satay? And where does it come from?
According to some websites, Satay is a shish kebab style dish (what, kebab?! ) that
has long been popular in Southeast Asia, particulary in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. It is most frequently
associated with Thai food, where satay
made from cubes of beef, chicken, or lamb may be dipped in a traditional
peanut relish or sauce.
Some say that it was invented in Thailand, while Michael and some of the websites (including wikipedia) says it was originated from Indonesia. Food historians are not certain if satay was first introduced in Indonesia or in Southeast Asia. Now, several countries in Southeast
Asia, like Malaysia, Singapore absorb this as local cuisine with
slightly different ingredient. Regardless of origin, all satay are praised by fans as delicious dishes.
In Malaysia, Satay comes in many forms, vary from culture and location. For most Klang Valley folks, the Satay Kajang was insanely famous back in the day, and many still visit Kajang for this very special delicacy. It was one of my childhood memories where my parents used to bring me there all the way from PJ just for dinner. Apart from the usual chicken and beef satay, I've also tried the rabbit and some other stuff that I don't really fancy. The satay, nasi pulut, the special wrappings....oh the childhood days.
That is Malay satay for me. As for chinese satay, or 'Lok-lok' in general understanding, is also a well received delicacy all over the country. The sate lok-lok in Penang, or the Satay Celup lok-lok in Malacca. The special thing about these lok-lok and celups are the fusion of hotpot and satay. You can also eat it with the peanut sause if hotpot isn't you 'thing'. Halal or non-halal? See who's the onwer lah!
That's all I know about Satay, and I bet there are plently more out there. What about you?