Recipe: Indonesian Beef Satay

Serves 2-4

Do you get hungry late, late, late – in the dark corners of the night? Does your stomach growl? Your mind race? Do you ever feel like you need a big bite of goodness before you can roll over and snooze? Me, too.

Indonesian Beef Satay is just the ticket.

Believe me when I say I would turn on my grill at midnight to eat this satay.

Here’s the truth: I’ve never simply sat and eaten a half pound of meat in my entire life. I’m just not that into meat.

Until today.

Completely, and without remorse, I ate an entire half pound and would have continued on to eat more skewers, if I could have weaseled some away from Keith and Ava.

The Satay are rich and sweet from the kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), wonderfully fragrant, and incredibly addictive. Apparently I’m not alone because many Indonesians are known to eat up to 6 skewers in one sitting.


1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tsp minced ginger
5 Tbsp kecap manis*
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp palm sugar* (optional)
1 tsp ground coriander
red chili peppers, chopped, to taste (optional)

1-2 lbs beef (I used sirloin), sliced thinly against the grain

Serve with Peanut Sauce [recipe]

*Available at most Asian markets


So, friend, let’s take care of your midnight munchies. By the time your eating, you’ll feel like you’re out on the town in Indonesia, without having to remove your cotton monkey pajamas.

Street food in Solo, Indonesia. Photo by Anthony Cramp

For the marinade you need just a few ingredients:

(clockwise from left to right): kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), onions, palm sugar (optional), ginger, chopped garlic, ground coriander, and peanut oil.

Once mixed together, the bowl of goodness rather resembles a starry night. A sweet, pungent starry night.

Now, let’s get the beef ready. Slice it thinly, against the grain.

Toss with marinade. We used 1 lb of beef, but you could probably coat up to 2 lbs with the mixture. Next time that’s what we’re doing.

Now, at this point you should crawl into bed and watch a movie. Eat popcorn. Drink tea. Relax. Give the mixture a stir somewhere in there, too, if you think of it.

After at least an hour, thread the meat onto skewers and grill over medium heat, turning once.

You can also leave it to marinate for up to 24 hours – you know, if you actually did fall asleep and wanted to wait a night to eat them.

The longer it sits, the better. The flavor will be richer. More addictive. Divine.

Eat until you burst… with smiles. Don’t forget a helping of peanut sauce [recipe].

Next, shut your eyes, dream some dreams. Perhaps a dream where you’re 0ut on the town, living it up in Indonesia.

Fair in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Photo by Hermitianta Prasetya Putra | Traffic at night in Jakarta. Photo by Paul Romijn


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  1. Brian S. says:

    Awesome!! I hope to make this one day, but I wouldn’t know how to thread the meat onto the skewers. Make the strips of meat into an S? Maybe a Mobius strip or donut for topology buffs? Or how long to grill. Also, can molasses sub for palm sugar?

  2. elisa waller says:

    i wonder if the “butcher” will slice it thin for you??? otherwise I suppose you need a nice sharp knife…this is beautiful…..this triggered my memory of cooking seitan at the health food store…we would cook it similar to this seasoning and texture and serve it with!…simialr but different…seitan/satay…..

  3. Sasha Martin says:

    @Brian – Yes, make the skewers into an “S” – you want to cut the meat very thinly against the grain. Your cooking time will really depend based on the thickness of the meat – mine cooked in about 4 minutes per side, but thicker will take longer. Sirloin can be cooked rare, if desired.

    @Elisa – Yes, I bet they can! That would be a great help if you’re pressed for time or worried about messing up.

  4. Celeste says:

    ooohhh, this makes me want to do this RIGHT NOW! But wait, i should wait until the middle of the night, right?!! Loved the recipe, loved the story. Wish i had some meat to grill like this right now, but it’s gonna hafta wait. We did manage to get the grill going, after about 40 + hours of rain! got some fish grilled for my daughter’s birthday dinner, cuz we were having some non-meat-eaters over, but for the nekst time we have meat…THIS is IT!!! :-D

    • Sasha Martin says:

      40+ Hours of rain?? We could use some of that! Glad to hear you’re tempted. Hope you love it as much as we did :)

  5. Oh boy does that make me hungry…


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