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May 1, 2009 05:55 PM

*May 2009* COTM Cradle of Flavor: Street Foods (satays, salads, and snacks)

**May 2009 Cookbook of the Month is Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore by James Oseland.

Please post your full-length reviews of recipes here for Street Foods including satays, salads, and snacks, from Chapter 7, page 138 to 165. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.
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  1. Chicken Satay page 147-150

    Since I am home alone for a few days, I drastically cut this recipe down to two thighs. Weighed the chicken and determined that I needed only 1/5 of the other ingredients. I am going to get really good at fractions this month!

    Since my ingredients were so diminished, I am not sure that I got the marinade ingredients pulverized enough. What is the consistency of creamy mashed potatoes? My marinade had small chunks that I could not get any smaller. I used the immersion blender's tiny processor bowl.

    Preparing the chicken was easy enough. Pull of the skin, remove from the bone, throw bone into freezer to make stock later. I was careful to make sure that the chicken was all one thickness, butterflying the few really thick parts. In spite of that, not all of my pieces were exactly 1" in width.

    Skewering the chicken was easy. My skewers allowed three pieces per skewer.

    I used my fancy-dancy and underused infrared broiler and my chicken pieces over browned with 5 minutes on one side and 4 on the other. The pieces in the center of the broiler became slightly overcharred. Next time, I will use a charcoil grill.

    I served this with the peanut sauce [reviewed under sauces.]

    The chicken was very tasty, and I would definately make this again. For me, there was not enough heat to offset the sweet, so I will be more generous with my chiles. I found the flavors to be very subtle, almost muted.

    7 Replies
    1. re: smtucker

      I made gado-gado salad on Friday night and served it with the required peanut sauce from the previous chapter (see that thread).
      The gado-gado was delicious and a lovely salad for a warm evening. I stayed true to the recipe except for one addition. I added a boiled egg for some additional protein and also because I have always had boiled eggs in gado-gado salads in the past.
      The recipe is fairlly straigthforward, given the number of steps involved. It is important to prep your mise en place for this recipe, as everything goes pretty quickly and many of the vegetables have to be blanched and rinsed.
      I did not serve this salad with anything else, but think it would go well with many dishes in the book. I do not have holland chilies and think the chile I added (a little smaller but not a thai chile) was a little hotter - that was ok with me, very good.

      1. re: smtucker

        Sate Ayam -- Chicken Satay (Terengganu, Malaysia) p. 147

        I made this Friday night for dinner, served with Lemongrass-Scented Coconut Rice (p 176) and Sweet Soy Sauce and Lime Dipping Sauce (p 125).

        I bought skinless, boneless thighs because as I former vegetarian, I'm just not into deboning and skinning the meat, at least not yet. Anyway. I just omitted step four and followed the rest of the recipe. I had 2 1/4 pounds boneless thighs, and the recipe called for 3 1/4 bone-in thighs, so smtucker and I thought that was close enough (thanks for helping with that, smtucker).

        First, the flavoring paste in my mini-processor: lemongrass, shallots, garlic, galangal root, ginger, turmeric, sugar, peanut oil, salt, coriander seeds, fennel seeds. I couldn't get the coriander and fennel fine enough in the mini-processor, so I ground those in my spice grinder and transferred them to the mini-prep. PHOTO 1 here is the flavoring paste. Pretty color from the turmeric, and a great scent.

        I massaged the paste into the chicken, cut painstakingly into cubes per his precise measurements 1 inch wide by 1/ inch thick by 2 to 3 inches long. Mine were mostly but not all quite 2 inches long, but I got the width and thickness right. This cutting of the meat was the only part of the prep that felt a little tedious. But as I said, I'm not a big fan of working with raw meat. Then I let the meat chill for 2 hours. My SO helped me get it on the sticks, which was easy enough.

        One of my favorite elements of preparing the satay: Set up the lemongrass stalk as a basting brush and let it scent the peanut oil. PHOTO 2. This was so cool, definitely a "nifty trick" and an "environmentally friendly brush" as Oseland states in the intro to this recipe. Basting with the lemongrass brush was a treat!

        "Follow the example of the best cooks in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore: use all of your senses when you prepare a meal" (Oseland pl 105). This lemongrass brush was definitely a treat for the senses.

        I cooked these under the broiler, about 5 minutes per side. I enjoyed the way they turned all toasty in color. PHOTOS 3 & 4

        The sweet soy and lime dipping sauce (PHOTO 3) really brightened up the flavors here, although the meat itself was wonderfully tender with a kick from the flavoring paste. This was the most pronounced flavor that I've experienced from the dishes I've tried here so far. The lemongrass-scented coconut rice disappointed me. But I was glad I followed Oseland's tip on the sweet soy lime dipping sauce.

        My only issue: we are just two people, and for some reason we couldn't get excited about the leftovers. We ate four sticks each, and still had eight sticks of satay left! I make a marinated broiled chicken from The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen, and I don't use sticks, but just throw the cubes of meat on a foil-lined cookie sheet. That might have been a good idea here with the sticks we couldn't eat that night, b/c the meat stuck tenaciously to the sticks when I tried to get it off to use for chicken wraps. It came off, but I wasn't that thrilled with the process.

        1. re: foxy fairy

          I will try the soy/lime sauce next time then. I made a savory stir-fry dish with the leftovers the next day. Started with a tiny amount of peanut oil, added some fresh veggies, then the chicken shredded and finally some of the Indonesian Sweet Soy Sauce and an egg. This may have been the perfect breakfast.

        2. re: smtucker

          Made the chicken satay again tonight. This time I made the full amount and [EUREKA!], I reached the creamy mashed potato stage with the marinade. Very exciting.

          This time I served with the Sweet Soy and Lime Sauce. I used red holland, yellow holland and red thai chiles. This sauce is delicious and easy and I much preferred it to the peanut sauce. Each diner placed sauce into their own small bowl, and I had additional peppers so everyone could reach the perfect level of heat for them.

          Rest of the meal was steamed rice and South Hadley asparagus. Not traditional, but the balance was great.

          1. re: smtucker

            I finally got around to make the chicken satay, and I am so happy I did it.

            I made them Friday night after a long commute from work. The marinade was simple, I stuck to recipe mostly, except switched the amount of lemongrass and garlic, 3 and 2 instead of 2 and 3. As foxyfairy says, cutting the chicken was the toughest part, even though I used boneless skinless thighs (3 pounds). My first few pieces were pricisely cut, later ones not so much. I marinated for little over 1 hour while I skewered the chicken and made the sauce. Then I put them in the broiler for 5 minutes on each side, they came out nicely charred. I was afraid that one hour is not enough time to marinate, but the satay did not seem to be lacking any flavor. I served it with sweet soy and lime sauce. A perfect combination.

            Next day I had some leftover skewers, which I broiled and took out for our park picnic. These did not turn out so good. Either the marinade lost its zing in 24 hrs, or because we ate them cold, or it just needs the sauce especially when its cold.

          2. re: smtucker

            This week at my farmer's market the Hmong farmers had Thai chilis and lemongrass. Score! I planned to make soup but there were four chicken thighs in the fridge, so I changed plans and made these chicken satays again.

            Unlike previous times times I have made this, the lemongrass was pliable and fresh. Made exactly as described above, but cooked on a charcoal grill. Served with the sweet soy sauce & lime sauce.

            For some reason, tonight's version was extraordinary. So delicious that I have no leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

            1. re: smtucker

              love this recipe, it has become the "standard" around here for chicken satay...we just had it Friday night for was supposed to be the appetizer, but we were enjoying it so much, we decided to cook all of the satay that night (i thought i'd made enough to stash some uncooked marinated chicken in the freezer, btw i've done that in the past and it works out just fine) and put off the rest of the meal for the next day's lunch.

          3. Beef Satay, Sate Sapi. Page 144

            This recipe is simple and very tasty.

            First make the marinade, which consists of tamarind pulp, shallots, garlic, coriander seeds, ginger, salt, oil (I did not have peanut oil, so I used olive oil) and palm sugar (I used Indian jaggery, as I wanted to clear my pantry. Oseland recommends jaggery as a substitution). After making the marinade, I smelled it (very strong smell, but it was early in the morning) and then I tasted it (whow it was yummy, sweet and sour and garlicky and gingery, but I was tempted to add chiles). Trying to stay true to the recipe the first time, I did not add any chiles.

            Then comes in the beef. Oseland recommends, flank or skirt steak, but I had bought London broil as I did not pay close attention to the recipe. This is the third kind he recommends, but I think the first two choices will be much better. I cut the beef in strips, marinated for little over two hours, threaded on skewers and broiled it for 4-5 minute each side. Oseland suggests 5-6 minutes, but his rack is 3 inches away from heat source, and my broiler distance is 21/4 inch, so I think it charred little too quickly.

            I served it with lemongrass scented coconut rice (page 176) and made a lunch out of it. We absolutely loved it. It is very flavorful and I did not miss any chiles in here. I would definitely recommend this one to everyone.

            1 Reply
            1. re: cpw

              Beef Satay, Sate Sapi. Page 144

              cpw above outlines the process well above, though I did use the fresh tumeric, palm sugar and peanut oil as outlined in the recipe. My beef was flap steak which was a little too loose after cutting 1/4" thick. My new palm sugar is a little more sweet than the last one I had bought, and if I use this one again, I will reduce just a bit since the marinade bordered on being out-of-balance.

              We skewered and used the charcoal grill to cook.

              One diner much preferred this to the Chicken Satay that I make so often. I am happy with either. No question, this is now in the rotation.

              Served with the Sweet Soy-Lime dipping sauce, carrot and cucumber pickles [with radishes substituting for the cucumber] and some basmati rice.

            2. QUESTION regarding Chicken Satay

              The recipe calls for 3 1/4 pounds bone-in thighs. What would be a comparable amount of boneless thighs? I have about 2 1/4 pounds of boneless thighs. Would that be about right? I mean, it doesn't really matter because if I have too much marinade, no problem, but I don't want to be left short. :)


              1 Reply
              1. re: foxy fairy

                I think this lands in the "close enough for jazz" category. I didn't weight my chicken after deboning [oversight there, so sorry] but I would guess that you are firmly in the right ballpark.


                Ive had a love-hate relationship with Rojak over the years, liking some versions and hating others. I liked Oseland's version quite a lot, - bear in mind that, like with gado gado, the ingredients covered by the dressing can be varied and subbed.

                the dressing is made with soaked and strained tamarind, roasted belacan, some fresh chiles, palm sugar and sweet soy sauce. Too much liquid for my minichop- it ran over a bit.

                dressing is poured over a mix of shredded or cubed fruit and veg, then the whole is sprinked with roughly ground roasted peanuts, and mixed.

                I used cubed fresh pineapple, thinly sliced hothouse cukes, and matchstick slices of green mango (yum, get it while you can), granny smith apple (subbing for green guava and green papaya, both currently available as well in indian stores) and jicama.

                great combo of flavors.
                you could add fried tofu puffs, pieces of hardboiled egg or big fried shrimp chips to this mix, easily, and substitute roasted sesame seedsfor the peanuts for a little different and more filling version of rojak (more like the so-called Indian Rojak of Singapore.) anyway, give this dish a try - its very refreshing and the pineapple really is good in the mix.

                1. Fried Sweet Plantains (pisang goreng - Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore), p. 161

                  Oseland says these are a common morning or afternoon snack, although I made them after dinner tonight. I used a plantain that I had bought yellow and let ripen until almost black, and it was nice and sweet. The simple batter is made with flour, baking powder, salt and water. These were good, although I like the batter for Vietnamese Fried Bananas (when Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table was COTM) better. E liked his fried plantains with powdered sugar, while I also liked them the way Oseland suggests - with a little bit of Sriracha.