Who doesn't like protein-on-a-stick? Satay, kebab, yakitori, you name it, they are fun, a bit charred, and delicious. Unfortunately when making them, I believe most of the time cooking is spent to skewer all the meat cubes, and that's a no no for my working mom and only allocated for big events and holiday.
My mother used to cook "fried" satay a lot. It's one of my favourite side dishes, but weirdly growing up, when I asked my friends, they're pretty rarely hear of the dish. I wondered whether it's a make-believe recipe my mother was cooking.
Being an adult and obtaining an exposure to the internet, I managed to find recipes with the same name, but surprising no one is the same. I believe my mother recipe is not the closest thing to the grilled version of satay, and is more like a stew, but this is the most familiar taste of "fried" satay to me.
Long story short, here's the recipe!
Step 1: Step 1: List Your Ingredients and Tools
For 3-6 portions
250g of protein of choice, cubed
6 cloves of shallots or 2 medium sized-onions
4 cloves of garlic
~2 table spoons of vegetable oil
~2 tea spoons of coriander
~0.5 tea spoon of salt
~1 tea spoon of pepper
~1 tea spoon of sugar
3 lime leaves
3 table spoons of sweet soy sauce (kecap/ ketjap manis)
2 cups of water (500 ml)
fried shallot for garnish
a deep frying pan or pot or instant pot, preferably with a lid
a knife and a cutting board
spatula or wooden spoon
a cup, a table spoon, and a tea spoon for measurement
Step 2: Step 2: Prepare the Ingredients
My mother said it's a good practice to prepare all your ingredients before you cook (though I still grab and chop ingredients on the way usually, sorry Mom).
My mother usually use meat as protein, but this time we will use chicken. Alternatively, tofu, tempeh, mushroom, pork, seitan, everything should work, just need to notice the cooking time. If you buy uncubed protein, you can cut them into roughly 3x3 cm cubes. If you buy cubed chicken like I do, just use them as they are.
Onions/ Shallots and garlics
Peel and chop onions and garlics, set aside.
Sweet soy sauce
Should be the most difficult ingredients to source if you're not commonly use this in your cooking. If it's uncommon, you should be able to find one in a nearby Asian store or the World Food Aisle in a pretty large supermarket. You can also make it yourself (one of the recipes is here from The Peach Kitchen). If I don't have one and don't have palm sugar, I usually substitute it with dark soy sauce + honey.
A lot of them is not gluten-free, please read the ingredients first. Based on the name alone, it's not soy-free. It's a pretty essential ingredients, I guess star anise + palm sugar will work but the taste will be quite different.
Step 3: Step 3: Stir Fry
Heat oil on the pan in medium-high for a bout 1-2 minutes, then add onion, garlic, lime leaves, salt, coriander, pepper, and sugar. Sautee them f or about 5 minutes until the onions turn brown. My mother says to add sugar to replace MSG! Though I guess if you like MSG this is the time to add it.
Step 4: Step 4: Add Protein and Sweet Soy Sauce
Add your protein to the sauteed onion and garlic. stir fry for a bout 5 minutes or until they turn colour (chicken to white, beef to brown, tofu to brown). Add the sweet soy sauce and keep stirring for about 5 minutes to caramelize. Lower the heat if it's bubbling too much not to let the soy sauce burnt on the bottom of the pan.
Step 5: Step 5: Add Water and Cover the Pan
Add water to our stir-fry and cover the pan with the lid. Lower the heat. Leave it it boil for about 20-30 minutes (chicken), depends on how watery you want the satay to be. Don't forget to stir once in a while (every 10 minutes or so) not to let the protein and the sauce stick.
My family used to have it with a bit of soup, which I personally think is better in colder weather. If you use meat and want it to be super-soft with less soup, you can cook it in lower heat for about an hour while adding more water (hint hint, here's the time when having an instant pot or a slow cooker is beneficial). If you use meat and want to cook faster, you can pre-boil your meat first before stir frying, and add the broth after.
Step 6: Serve
Scoup them into a bowl and serve with some fried shallot as garnish. It's very nice to eat it while it's hot with hot rice and cabbage.
The recipe should be able to feed 6 people if they eat about 3 cubes each, but I guess if they're hungry, about 3 people can eat. it has been 3 years since I meet my mother face-to-face. It's nice to have a taste of home when you're far away!