Satay Skewers & Peanut Sauce
Next to stuffed food, food on a stick is one of my favorites. No utensils needed, easy to eat on the go, and kids think it’s so fun!
In China, if you know where to go, you’ll see late night food carts full of freshly skewered food, just waiting for you to point at it. The skewered foods will be tossed on the grill and a sprinkling of seasonings added. In larger cities these food carts are starting to fade away, but they are still around, tucked in corners throughout the city, waiting for late night revelers. In other cities in Asia, where food carts are very much still alive and cookin’, customers might snag a pop up table saddled with bright colored plastic stools and if they are really lucky, an ice cold beer will be served alongside it.
I had been craving something coconut-y and peanut butter-y but I didn’t want it to be something sweet. I remembered I had some skewers on hand, but didn’t want just any old veg on them. I was craving something with some substance. Then I remembered a dish that my husband (in his meat eating days) and friends loved to order at Southeast Asian restaurants, and that dish is satay.
Satay comes from an amalgamation of cultural cuisines from Southeast Asia, with it’s roots thought to be from Java, a breathtakingly beautiful island Indonesia. Interestingly, when you look a bit further back in history, this popular street food was actually inspired by the kebabs of India. However, it was the exotic spices of the Spice Islands that made this dish uniquely Indonesian. As people migrated throughout Southeast Asia, they created new versions of the dish made with locally available ingredients.
And that’s just what I am bringing you today, a vegan version that more closely represents the Thai version of satay. I used ingredients easily found at local markets here in Shanghai, and instead of using tofu I used kaofu, or mianjin, which is a traditional Chinese version of seitan.
If you are gluten free you can definitely replace the kaofu with tofu or even tempeh. If you do use kaofu, don’t worry about marinating it for too long. It literally looks like a sponge, which means it soaks up the marinade, well, like a sponge. This will be a flavor bomb in your mouth. Wowza!
400-450g kaofu, super firm tofu (suji), or tempeh (kaofu can be found at the local fresh market and most supermarkets in the tofu section)
1/2 C coconut milk
2.5 tbs low sodium soy sauce or liquid aminos
2 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice (sub with lemon juice if needed)
1 tbs maple syrup
1 tsp curry powder
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp freshly minced ginger
1 C coconut milk
1 tbs curry powder
1/2 C smooth peanut butter
3/4 C vegetable broth
1/4 C brown sugar, coconut sugar or 2 tbs maple syrup
2 tbs lime juice (sub with lemon juice)
1 tsp soy sauce or liquid aminos
coriander and sliced red chili pepper, and sliced lime, optional for garnish
1. Cut veggie protein of choice into chunks about 1.5-2 inches thick and 4 inches long. Set aside.
2. In a shallow rectangular dish, mix together coconut milk, soy sauce or liquid aminos, lime or lemon juice, maple syrup, curry powder, and minced garlic and ginger. Add in kaofu, tofu, or tempeh, rotate pieces in mixture to as to coat all of them evenly. If using kaofu, you only need to let marinate for the time you are making the sauce. If you are using tofu or tempeh, you might want to let it sit a bit longer.
3. To prepare the sauce, mix together coconut milk, curry powder, peanut butter, vegetable broth, and brown sugar or other sweeter in a small sauce pan, heat over medium high heat until a bit bubbly. Reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened, stirring so the mixture doesn’t stick to the pan. Remove from heat and add lime or lemon juice and soy sauce. Set aside.
4. To prepare skewers, take marinated pieces of your veggie protein and carefully insert short bamboo skewer or metal skewer into each piece, from the bottom length-wise. Set aside.
5. Heat your grill or grill pan on medium high, and lightly oil the cooking surface. Place skewers on top and cook until the pieces of veggie protein have nice grill marks on all sides, pushing down a bit with a metal turner so that all parts are evenly exposed to the heat and cooked through.
6. Once all skewers are grilled, plate and drizzle peanut sauce on top. Sprinkle with additional garnish if using
7. Add extra peanut sauce to a small sauce serving dish and serve.
To use the leftovers, I made mung bean boodles, and then mixed the peanut sauce with chili garlic sauce. I tossed the noodles with the sauce and added some chopped kaofu on top. Quick and easy lunch or dinner.