Lemongrass Pork Sates

Method: direct grilling
Serves: 4 to 6 (makes 36 sates)

You'll also need:

  • 36 long slender bamboo skewers (8 to 12 inches)
  • Heavy-duty aluminum foil
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and coarsely chopped (6 to 8 tablespoons), or 3 strips lemon zest, each about 1-1/2 by 1/2 inch
  • 1 large or 2 medium shallots, coarsely chopped (about 5 tablespoons)
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 to 3 Thai chiles, Serrano peppers, or other hot chiles, seeded and roughly chopped (leave the seeds in for hotter sates)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup Asian fish sauce or soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds pork loin or tenderloin
  • Peanut Sauce (recipe follows)

1. Place the lemongrass, shallot, garlic, chile(s), and sugar in a food processor and pulse to make a coarse paste. Add the fish sauce, lime juice, 3 tablespoons of the oil, and the black pepper and purée until smooth. You can also place all of the marinade ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth.

2. Using a very sharp knife, cut the pork loin crosswise slightly on the diagonal into thin slices (about 1/8 inch thick). Cut each slice lengthwise in half or thirds to create thin strips of meat about 1 inch wide and 3 to 4 inches long. Weave each strip of meat like a ribbon on a skewer. The meat will bunch up as it goes on the skewer; gently spread it out with your fingers.

3. Arrange 12 of the satés in a single layer in a nonreactive baking dish. Pour a third of the marinade over the satés in the baking dish. Turn the satés to coat both sides with the marinade. Arrange 12 more satés on top of the first layer, pour half of the remaining marinade over these, and turn this layer to coat evenly. Arrange the remaining satés on top of the second layer, pour the remaining marinade over these, and turn to coat evenly. Let the pork marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 1 to 2 hours.

4. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.

5. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Tear off a piece of aluminum foil that is roughly as long as the grill is wide. Fold into half lengthwise. Place the foil flat on the grate at the edge closest to you. Arrange the satés on the grate so they are over the fire but the exposed ends of the skewers are on top of the foil shield to keep them from burning. Depending on the side of the grill, you may need to cook the satés in batches. Grill the satés until cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side, basting them with vegetable oil. Transfer the grilled satés to a platter or hand them to your guests right off the grill. Serve with tiny dishes of Peanut Sauce for dipping.

Peanut Sauce

Yield: 1-3/4 cups

  • 3/4 to 1 cup chicken stock, light cream, or unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Thai chile or Serrano pepper, seeded and minced
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar, or more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons minced or grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste

Place the stock in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining ingredients and gradually bring to a simmer, whisking as needed to blend. Simmer until richly flavored, about 5 minutes. The sauce should be thick but pourable; add more stock if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature. (The sauce will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for several days. Stir to recombine.)

© 2006 Steven Raichlen | site design Benjamin Wilchfort