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An Easy Satay Party

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This Southeast Asian do-ahead menu is centered around grilled skewers of meat and a savory peanut sauce, with simple salads on the side

Take a cue from the street vendors in Thailand or Indonesia in preparing this relaxed summer menu. The aromatic lemongrass-tinged marinade and dipping sauces can be made up to two days before the party; the meats are skewered and marinated a day in advance. The meal is rounded out by simple fresh vegetable salads and grilled fruit with a luscious coconut sauce.

Menu Timeline

Two days before:

  • Make the marinade.
  • Make the peanut sauce.
  • Make the coconut sauce.

The night before:

  • Slice and marinate the meat.
  • Make the sweet-sour sauce.

That afternoon:

  • Chill all beverages.
  • Soak the wooden skewers.
  • Make the pineapple sauce.
  • Skewer the meats; keep chilled.
  • Slice fruit for dessert.

An hour before:

  • Make the radish and cucumber salads; transfer to serving bowls.
  • Bring all the sauces to room temperature; transfer to serving bowls.
  • Bring the skewered meat to room temperature.
  • Skewer the bread.
  • Make rice, if serving.

As the party begins:

  • Start grilling the meat and bread skewers.

Shopping List

Fresh Produce

  • 2 fresh pineapples (or 1 fresh and 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple in juice)
  • 2 large mangoes
  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 1 large bunch radishes
  • 2 medium-small cucumbers
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1 medium ginger root
  • 2 stalks fresh lemongrass
  • 4 medium shallots
  • 1 large lemon
  • 3 limes
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 16 fresh bird chiles or 14 fresh serrano chiles

Meat and Poultry

  • 1 lb pork loin, beef sirloin, or boneless chicken thighs and breasts (or a mix)

Other Groceries

  • 1 13 1/2-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
  • 10 to 15 dried chiles de arbol
  • 1 loaf French bread
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 30 wooden skewers

Pantry Staples

  • Granulated sugar (1 1/4 cups)
  • Distilled vinegar (1/4 cup)
  • Red wine vinegar (3 tablespoons)
  • Vegetable oil (2 tablespoons)
  • Soy sauce (2 tablespoons)
  • Ground turmeric (1 teaspoon)
  • Ground cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Ground cayenne (1/2 teaspoon)

Drink Suggestions

Try beer, light white wine, or even lemonade.You have several delicious options when it comes to choosing drinks for this satay menu. To keep things easy, stick with beverages that will work throughout the meal.

A traditional, crisp Thai beer such as Singha ($7 for a six-pack) pairs well with the savory flavors of the satays, as does a light- to medium-bodied ale like Acme Pale Ale ($7) from the North Coast Brewing Company in California. For the wine drinkers at your table, look for a light, crisp white with a touch of sweetness. Sokol Blosser’s Evolution ($15), a delicious blend from Oregon, and the 2001 Martinborough Vineyards Riesling ($18) from New Zealand both offer vibrant fruit, crisp acidity, and just the slightest trace of sweetness.

The tart-sweet flavors of lemonade or tea would complement the smoky-sweet elements of the satays beautifully. A sparkling fruit juice would be delicious, too, especially with the grilled fruit and coconut sauce. Gavioli sparkling fruit juices ($5 for a wine-size bottle) come in green apple and summer fruit flavors.

Master sommelier Tim Gaiser is a contributing editor to Fine Cooking.


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