Beef Satay Skewers Recipe

Think of beef satay as steak on a skewer and a very popular street food found throughout Southeast Asia.  With some of the best you are ever going to experience found being cooked by street side vendors, hawkers and food courts throughout Singapore.

Tiny pieces of marinated beef are skewered onto bamboo skewers and cooked over small charcoal fires until well-browned and lightly charred, creating a perfect blend of savory, smoky and sweet barbequed beef.

Once off the grill, the skewers are served with a sweet and spicy peanut sauce, made with roasted peanuts, coconut milk and a variety of spices, and a side dish of steamed ketupat (compressed rice) wrapped in banana leafs, and wedges of cucumber to cleanse the palate. 

Singapore is a melting pot of cultures, from Malay, Indian, English and Chinese just to name few.  This recipe is one which is a bit more Malay influenced containing lemongrass and dark sweet soy sauce.

Beef Satay Skewers

Recipe by Maverick CharlestonCourse: MainCuisine: SingaporeanDifficulty: Easy


  • Beef Skewers
  • 1 kg rib eye steaks (about 1/2 inch thick)

  • 30 Bamboo Skewers 8-10cm in length

  • 125ml (½ cup) peanut oil, for brushing

  • Marinade For Beef Skewers
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar

  • 1 medium brown onion, finely diced

  • 1 tsp ground fennel

  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander

  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoons Asian fish sauce

  • 3 stalks lemongrass tender inner core only, finely diced

  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce

  • 4 tbsp peanut oil

  • To Serve
  • Cucumber and red onion pieces, to serve.

  • Fried garlic peanut sauce

  • Recipe – Fried Garlic Peanut Sauce
  • 10 large dried chillies, de-seeded and soaked in hot water for 20 minutes

  • 2 medium brown onions,sliced

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 2 stalks lemongrass, tender inner core only, finely sliced

  • 1 tbsp belacan (shrimp paste)

  • 1 tsp ground coriander

  • 1 tsp ground cumin

  • 60ml (¼ cup) peanut oil

  • 300g roasted peanuts

  • 400ml coconut cream

  • 1 tbsp tamarind pulp

  • 125ml (½ cup) hot water

  • 2 tbsp sugar

  • 1 tsp salt


  • Place the meat in the refrigerator or freezer for 1 hour – this will make it easier to slice. Using a large, sharp knife, thinly slice the meat against the grain, then again into 5cm long pieces. Place meat into a bowl.
  • To make the marinade, place brown sugar, coriander, fennel, finely diced brown onion, turmeric, cumin, pepper, fish sauce, finely diced lemon grass and peanut oil into a food processor and blend until a smooth paste.
  • Add Marinade to the bowl containing beef and mix well, making sure to cover beef in marinade.
  • Let the beef marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 3 – 6 hours the longer it marinates, the richer the flavor will be ( Overnight gives the best results)
  • Meanwhile, to make the peanut sauce, place the chillies, onions, garlic, lemongrass, belacan, coriander and cumin in a blender and process until smooth. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and fry the paste, stirring occasionally, for about 10-15 minutes until very fragrant. Add the peanuts and coconut cream and bring to a simmer. Combine the tamarind pulp and hot water until smooth, then add to the sauce with the sugar and salt and simmer for another 5-10 minutes or until the sauce starts to form an oily gloss on the surface. Re-heat gently just before serving.
  • Drain the beef, discarding the marinade.
  • Soak the bamboo skewers in cold water for at least 1 hour before skewering.
  • Thread one slice of beef onto each skewer, You only want the meat to come about one-third of the way down the skewer. Thread the beef onto bamboo skewers weaving it onto the skewer 2-3 times to hold it in place, leaving the bottom half of each skewer bare for a handle and 1/2 inch exposed at the pointed end. Use your hands to mold the skewer into a nice, firm shape.
  • The satay skewers can be prepared several hours ahead to this stage. Refrigerate the satay skewers covered, until ready to grill.
  • Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat it to high.
  • When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate.
  • Arrange the satay skewers on the hot grate. Brush the skewers with oil, then cook, basting regularly with extra oil and turning regularly.
  • Grill the satay skewers until cooked to taste, 1 to 2 minutes per side for medium-rare, a little longer for medium. (In general, Southeast Asians prefer their satay skewers medium to medium-well done.) Use the poke test to check for doneness.
  • Serve immediately with the peanut sauce, and cucumber and red onion on the side.
  • The traditional way to eat the satay skewers is to skewer a piece of cucumber or red onion on the pointed end of the skewer, then dip the satay skewer in the peanut sauce.

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