Jeff & Linda's Kitchen of Diversity

Tempeh Satay


Satay is a favorite street food in Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia, and usually consists of skewered meat pieces drilled over a charcoal fire and served with various savory sauces.  In this vegan version from Indonesia, however, tempeh is used.  We're going to make a classic spicy peanut sauce to accompany the grilled, marinated tempeh cubes. The following recipe will serve 8 as an appetizer and perhaps four as a main course served with rice.

3 shallots, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tablespoons lime juice

1½ tsp salt

1 tablespoon palm sugar

1 tablespoon powdered galingal root

1/3 cup sweet Indonesian soy sauce (kechap manis)

1 lb tempeh, cut into 1” dice

3-4 Japanese leeks, cut into 1” pieces

Bamboo skewers, soaked in water

Combine shallots, garlic, lime juice, salt, sugar, galingal, and soy sauce in a blender or food processor and grind until smooth.  Pour marinade evenly over tempeh cubes and let sit for at least 15 minutes.

Impale 2 tempeh cubes, then a piece of Japanese leek on a bamboo skewer, and repeat until the skewer is full.  Repeat until all the tempeh and leek is used.  (You'll probably note that there are no leeks interspersed among the tempeh cubes in the picture below.  We ran out earlier on the in meal, and just went ahead without them.  We wish we'd had them.)


Grill over hot coals – or under a broiler – for 7-10 minutes, turning 2-3 times, until the tempeh and onions brown.  Serve hot with peanut  sauce (below) or peanut nerimiso.

Peanut Sauce

2 tablespoons canola oil

3-4 shallots, finely minced

3 cloves garlic, chopped

½ cup peanut butter

½ cup coconut milk

½ teaspoon sambal ulek or other hot chile paste

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon sweet Indonesian soy sauce (kechap manis)

salt to taste

Heat oil in a skillet and sauté onion and garlic until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Place into blender or food processor and add in the rest of the ingredients.  Blend
until smooth.  Return paste to the skillet and bring to a gentle boil.  Cook for 3 minutes.


You'll need to visit an oriental market to find the palm sugar, powdered galingal root (sometimes called 'Laos Powder'), kechap manis, and sambal ulek.  You can substitute brown sugar if you can't find palm sugar, and any non-sweet oriental chile sauce if you can't find sambal ulek.  You probably should try and track down the galingal root powder and kechap manis if you'd like this to be authentically Indonesian, as there are no good substitutes.  If your local market does not carry these, there are on-line Indonesian markets that will ship ingredients.  In a pinch you could try using ground ginger for the galingal and a 1:1 mix of soy sauce and molasses for the kechap, but the resulting satay -- while tasty -- won't be quite right. 

The best Japanese leek to grow for this dish is Ishikura which has stems up 2½ feet tall and up to 1" across

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