Saturday, January 9, 2016

Umm... what have I learned in 2015...?

Well... 2015 was the year that I finished my schooling. So I'm now officially a grown up! And now I have time to blog more! Wooo-hooo! (My poor, poor neglected blog... So much for one recipe a day...)

I've learned quite a bit of things in 2015. I learned to make pickled radish and carrot for Vietnamese Banh Mi, I learned to make curry chicken for Burmese-style Shan noodles, and I finally learned to make Manado-style satay. Oh, and I played around with Peking duck style of cooking turkey and chicken.

Anyways, I still need to repeat the recipes for the Burmese-style Shan noodles, but I can post the rest of the recipes. Let's start this new year with Manado-style satay.

The recipe for this satay came from my mother. She told me about the satay (of which I never heard) in an email when she told me that she made some for our family gathering. Of course when she came to visit, my first request was: show me (not quite like that, I said "please" too). She obliged.

The satay is quite interesting since it used pork meat. Indonesia is a muslim country, in the sense that muslims are the majority. However, Indonesia itself recognizes five major religions (six according to Wiki, but I argue that Confucianism is more of a philosophy rather than a religion). In such a way, there are areas in which the four other religions flourish more than Islam. For instance, the primary religion in Bali is Hinduism, and there are pockets of Catholics and Christians in places such as, you guessed it, Manado. The original recipe is probably lost somewhere between the first time my mother learned it and now. But the following recipe is pretty much how she was taught (minus the fish sauce, but the fish sauce is a delicious addition).

Manado-style Satay


2 lb pork loin cut into 1 in. x 1 in. x 0.5 in. cubes
1 cup Indonesian sweet soy sauce
1 tbs cornstarch
1-2 tbs fish sauce

1-2 tomatoes
Sugar to taste
Chili pepper to taste
Salt to taste


1. Mix together cornstarch, sweet soy sauce and fish sauce.
2. Marinate pork loin cubes in the sauce for about two hour minimum
3. Skewer the pork cubes
4. Grill either on the stove or on the grill until cooked (4-5 mins per side, approximately)
5. Puree tomatoes and chili pepper while waiting for the pork to marinate
6. Boil the tomatoes and chili pepper
7. Reduce heat to simmer and then add sugar and salt
8. Simmer until thickened
9. Serve while satay is still hot with piping hot white rice

1. Don't remove the fat from the pork loin. It keeps the meat juicy while grilling. Besides, the pork loin usually only have fat on one side, so it is easily removable after cooking.
2. One way to test whether it is marinated enough is to cook one piece of the cube. Pan fry (with very little oil, a cooking oil sprayer works awesome) a cube of meat and taste if it is to your specification. The meat should be tender, sweet and salty at the same time.
3. I suggest going with smaller amount of fish oil. Test if the smell is pungent enough already, if not, add a bit more. Be careful about adding fish sauce too since it can make the dish too salty.
4. Lazy wo(man) approach: have your butcher cut the loins about 0.5 in. thick. That will make the pork loin more manageable.
5. If you don't have Indonesian sweet soy sauce, then just use regular soy sauce (like Tamari, but NEVER Kikkoman for this dish) and sugar. One way to ensure you put enough sugar is to mix half a cup - two-thirds of a cup of soy sauce and sugar first then taste it. You want something that sweet (think Southern Sweet Tea which is usually sweeter than regular standard sweet tea). Add water to dilute the saltiness. If you are using this approach, however, you want to use fish sauce sparingly and taste the sauce before you mix in cornstarch or meat (obviously...).
6. My parents spooned the sauce on the satay directly before eating. Others "unskewered" (is that a word?) all the meat from the skewer and then put the sauce all over it. Me? I drained the meat cubes from the marinade, stir-fried them all in the sauce until the sauce caramelized on the meat. Moral of the story? There are so many ways to customize this dish. 
7. If you can get palm sugar instead of regular sugar, you're in for a treat!  
8. Awesome for tofu. But don't marinate too long. 

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