If you’re Singaporean and a big fan of satay, get ready to be pretty bummed out because contrary to popular belief, our “local delight” actually originated from Indonesia. And if you go further back, satay was inspired by the Arabs and their Middle Eastern kebabs when they came to South East Asia for the spice trade.
FROM SWORDS TO SKEWERS TO FAMOUS HAWKER DISH
The Arabs used to eat directly off their weapons, having developed a habit of stabbing raw meat and roasting them right off their swords.
As time went by, roasting methods became less barbaric as the Middle Easterners began to use metal sticks instead, calling their dish kebab (which literally means roasted meat in Arabic).
Satay is simply kebab adapted to the multicultural palates of Asians and their love for flavourful sauces and unique marination methods. Unlike kebab, satay is barbecued with all its glossy tantalising flesh skewered on a sharp wooden stick instead of a metal one.
People love satay so much that variations the typical chicken/mutton/beef originals are popping up all over the nation — pork satay, shrimp satay…
Speaking of pork satay, it’s believed to be of Hainanese origin – the meat is prepared with chunks of lean pork with a chunk of pork lard, lightly marinated and grilled over charcoal fire until smoky. It also takes longer to prepare than traditional satay (about 20 minutes) and is served with peanut sauce topped with pineapple puree to balance the lard flavour. In fact, some say that the origin of the word “satay” is derived from the Chinese words “sa” (三 three) and “tay” (疊 pieces/stack).
You can even find recipes for tofu satay for vegans, which is not really a satay because of the lack of meat but who cares! Now anything on a stick can be called a satay and food sellers sure know that anyone’s ears would perk up at the mention of
SATAY’S GREATEST MOMENTS IN SINGAPORE
THE SATAY CLUB HOP
BY THE BAY IS OUR BAE
Originated from our lovely hometown or not, satay has proven itself to be one of our nation’s favourite supper treats. There’s truly nothing more sinful than a mouthful of juicy well-oiled meat coated with sweet and spicy peanut sauce but this delicacy is definitely worth all those calories!
Watch how we created a sataysfying mess inspired by Quentin Tarantino!
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By Rachel Lim