Sates are Indonesia's national dish and culinary common denominator: these little kebabs are served in elegant hotel restaurants, from roadside pushcarts and just about everywhere in between. Indonesians eat sate day and night, as a snack or a meal, at religious festivals, family celebrations and sporting events. Of the hundreds of varieties of sate, the one that's colloquially called sate lalat is Steven Raichlen's favorite. It's the smallest Indonesian sate—not much bigger than a fly, which is what lalat means; the skewers are traditionally the size of broom straws and the meat portion is about 1 inch long; a typical serving would include 3 or 4 dozen. Raichlen makes his sates somewhat larger to cut down on labor, though any size is easy and fun to make.This specialty of the island of Madura, near Java, owes its distinctive flavor and texture to shredded coconut. The meat mixture is traditionally flavored with ketjap manis, a sweet soy sauce available at Asian markets; Raichlen used soy sauce and molasses in its place, but by all means use ketjap manis here if you can find it.Plus: More Beef Recipes and Tips

September 1997


Recipe Summary

6 first-course or 4 main-course servings


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • In a bowl, combine the ground beef, coconut, soy sauce, molasses, ginger, lime juice, salt, turmeric, pepper and the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Mix with your hands to combine the ingredients.

  • With lightly moistened hands, roll 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture around a bamboo skewer into a 6-inch long strip about 1/3 inch thick. Repeat until all of the meat mixture is used up.

  • Light a grill. When the fire is hot, oil the grill. Arrange the skewers at the edge of the grill (so they don't burn) and cook the sates, turning often, until the meat is lightly charred and just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve at once.

Make Ahead

The sates can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight.

Suggested Pairing

Geary's London-Style Porter, from Maine, stands up to the highly seasoned beef without being too heavy.