“Simon Goh knows a good satay. To make the beautiful spice Simon suggests using a high quality curry powder like Alagappa that is made in Malaysia. It can be found in Asian grocery stores.” Maeve O Meara, Food Safari Fire






Skill level

Average: 3.5 (109 votes)


  • ½ onion, diced
  • ½ lemongrass stem, white part only, finely diced
  • ½ tsp curry powder
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp finely diced fresh turmeric
  • pinch of paprika
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • pinch of salt or to taste
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) chicken breast or beef tenderloin, cut into 2.5 cm (1 in) cubes
  • 16 bamboo skewers, soaked in water overnight
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and cubed


Satay sauce

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 lemongrass stems, white part only, finely chopped
  • 2 dried red chillies, reconstituted in water
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) peanut oil
  • pinch of paprika
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 80 g (2¾ oz/½ cup) peanuts, coarsely ground
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) water
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) coconut milk
  • pinch of salt or to taste
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time 6 hours or overnight

To prepare the skewers, grind or blend together the onion, lemongrass, curry powder, garlic, turmeric and paprika to a paste. Add the sugar and salt, and mix well. Add the cubed chicken or beef, mix thoroughly and leave covered in the refrigerator overnight, or at least for 6 hours. 

To make the satay sauce, use a mortar and pestle to pound the onion, garlic, lemongrass and chillies until a paste forms. Alternatively, you can use a blender.

Heat the peanut oil in a small saucepan and cook the paste over medium–high heat for a few minutes until fragrant. Stir in the paprika, curry powder and turmeric. Add the peanuts, water and coconut milk, and bring slowly to the boil while stirring. Add the salt and sugar and simmer for around 20 minutes until the oil has risen to the surface. Set aside (the sauce will be served at room temperature).

Light the barbecue and while the charcoal is heating, thread about 3 pieces of meat on each skewer. Brush the meat with oil (you can use a brush made from lemongrass) and grill on both sides for about 4–6 minutes until lightly charred.

Serve with chunks of cucumber, ketupat (compressed rice) and a bowl of satay sauce.



• This makes a lot of satay sauce, so you can freeze leftovers for next time.


Recipe from Food Safari Fire by Maeve O'Meara (Hardie Grant, hbk, $55).  Photography by Toufic Charabati.


Visit the Food Safari Fire program page for recipes, videos and more.