The Best Beef Satés in Singapore

The Best Beef Satés in SingaporeBen Fink


  • 1 1/2 lbs. rib eye steaks (about ½ in. thick)
  • 3 tbs. light brown sugar
  • 2 tbs. ground coriander
  • 1 tbs. ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbs. Asian fish sauce or soy sauce
  • 3 tbs. vegetable oil
  • Singapore Cucumber Relish and Fried Garlic Peanut Sauce (optional, recipes follow), for serving

    How to make it 

  • 1

    Cut steaks into 1/2-in. cubes (do not trim fat). Place in nonreactive mixing bowl. Stir in brown sugar, coriander, turmeric, cumin, pepper, fish sauce or soy sauce, and oil. Let beef marinate in refrigerator, covered, at least 2 hours.

  • 2

    Drain beef cubes; discard marinade. Thread beef onto bamboo skewers, leaving bottom half of each skewer bare for a handle and ¼ in. exposed at pointed end. Satés can be prepared to this stage several hours ahead. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to grill.

  • 3

    Preheat grill to high. When ready to cook, brush grill grate clean and apply thin coat of oil. Arrange satés on hot grate, with piece of aluminum foil placed under exposed ends of skewers to keep from burning (fold foil in thirds, shiny side out). Grill satés until cooked to taste, 1 to 2 minutes per side for medium-rare, a little longer for medium. (Editor’s note: Beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F.)

  • 4

    Serve satés with Singapore Cucumber Relish and Fried Garlic Peanut Sauce, if desired.

Singapore Cucumber Relish


  • 2 Kirby (pickling) cucumbers with seeds or 1 medium cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 shallot, minced (2 to 3 tbs.), or
  • 1 scallion, white and green parts, trimmed and minced
  • 1 small hot red chile, such as a bird or cayenne pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 2 tbs. rice vinegar
  • 1 tbs. sugar
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper

    How to make it 

    Cut cucumbers into 1/4-in. dice. Place cucumbers, shallot, chile, rice vinegar, and sugar into mixing bowl and toss gently to mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. The relish can be made up to 2 hours ahead. Makes 1 to 1 1/2 cups.

Fried Garlic Peanut Sauce


  • 2 tbs. vegetable oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, 3 cloves thinly sliced crosswise and 2 cloves minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 strips (each 1/2 in. by 2 in.) lemon zest
  • 1 to 3 small hot chiles, such as Thai chiles or serrano or jalapeño peppers, stemmed, seeded, and minced (for hotter sauce, leave in seeds)
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tbs. sugar, or more to taste
  • 2 tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 tsp. fresh lime juice, or more to taste
  • 1 tbs. finely chopped cilantro
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground pepper

    How to make it 

  • 1

    Heat oil in wok or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sliced garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, 2 minutes. Remove garlic with slotted spoon; place on paper towels to drain. Add minced garlic, shallot, lemon zest, and chile(s) to wok and cook over medium-high heat until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 minutes.

  • 2

    Stir in peanut butter, coconut milk, sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, if using, lime juice, and ¾ cup water. Reduce heat and gently simmer sauce until thick but pourable, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in cilantro during last 2 minutes of cooking.

  • 3

    Just before serving, stir in fried garlic. If sauce turns thick and pasty, add 1 tbs. or so of water. Add salt and pepper to taste and more sugar and lime juice if needed. Makes about 2 cups.


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