It’s Labor Day weekend and the last hurrah for seasonal get-togethers. In this socially busy season, savvy hosts can catch up with friends “on the run” by committing to a do-it- yourself sate barbecue. Here are some simple thoughts to create a diverse selection of sates, Asian style.
The simplicity of sate, pieces of chicken or beef threaded on bamboo skewers, with a selection of marinades from sweet to spicy, makes it apt for summer. Marinades can be prepared ahead and skewers soaked in preparation for grilling your sates. Butterflied strips of boned chicken breasts are marinated in an Asian peanut sauce. Similarly, strips of flank steak are marinated in a smooth Indonesian inspired paste. Your choice of food can be skewered ahead and seasoned with varied marinades. To keep the theme, a Japanese vegetable salad makes a fine accompaniment for the sates.
The fun part comes when your grill is ready for your guests to get involved grilling their choice of skewers.
CHICKEN SATE WITH PEANUT SAUCE
Serves 8 to 10
For the chicken
3 whole boneless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
For the peanut sauce
Zest of 1 large lime
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce (Nuoc Mam)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Several drops hot chili oil
Wooden skewers soaked for a minimum of 30 minutes
1. Trim chicken breasts of excess fat and gristle. Rinse and pat dry with paper towel.
Place one layer deep in a freezer-going container and freeze for 1 hour. Cut the chicken breasts into 3/4-inch strips. Freezing helps facilitate cutting the strips. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brush with oil.
2. Meanwhile place the ingredients for the peanut sauce in a mixing bowl and stir to mix to a smooth paste. Transfer to a small bowl for serving.
3. Thread chicken strips on the presoaked skewers. Prepare charcoal or gas grill for cooking. When coals are ashen hot or gas grill is medium-high place skewers about 3 to 4 inches from source of heat and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes each side. Transfer to a platter, one layer deep, and serve with dipping sauce.
FLANK STEAK SATE
Serves 8 to 10
3 pounds flank steak
For the marinade
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
4 teaspoons ground chili powder
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Grated lemon rind from one-half lemon
3/4 cup water
Kosher salt to taste
Soak 30 wooden skewers for a minimum of 30 minutes
1. Slice flank steak across the grain into 1/2-inch strips (freeze the meat ahead for 30 minutes for easier slicing).
2. Heat the oil in a skillet and saute the onion, garlic and ginger for 3 to 4 minutes until tender. Add remaining ingredients and stir to a smooth paste over medium low heat. Simmer for 2 minutes. Thread steak strips on skewers, and arrange in a shallow glass Pyrex or ceramic dish. Spread the paste over the meat coating it well. Can be done ahead to this point.
3. Prepare charcoal or gas grill for cooking. When coals are ashen hot, or gas grill is medium high, place skewers about 3 to 4 inches from source of heat and cook 3 minutes on each side until crisp and brown. Baste with any leftover marinade.
JAPANESE VEGETABLE SALAD
An arrangement of vegetables, cut into thin sticks are lightly dressed with sesame vinaigrette, Japanese style. The vinaigrette is attributed to Elizabeth Andoh, friend and colleague, an authority on Japanese cuisine.
Serves 8 to 10 on a buffet.
For the vegetables
2 carrots, trimmed and peeled
2 zucchini, scrubbed and trimmed
2 cucumbers, peeled and seeded
2 to 3 inner ribs celery, trimmed and washed well
2 tablespoons Japanese rice vinegar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons light miso (bean paste)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 teaspoon superfine sugar, (optional)
1 bunch watercress, washed and spin-dried
1 cup bean sprouts
1. Cut carrots into halves or quarters lengthwise, then cut into 2-inch length sticks. Repeat with zucchini, cucumber and celery. Be sure the vegetables are clean and dry before dressing with the vinaigrette. Can be prepared up to one day ahead and refrigerated, securely wrapped in plastic bags.
2. Prepare vinaigrette: In a bowl, combine all the ingredients, whisking lightly to ensure even distribution. Chill the dressing and use on vegetables or salad greens. Vinaigrette can be refrigerated in a suitable container for up to one week.
3. When ready to serve, toss the vegetables with enough vinaigrette to coat them. Place the watercress, sprinkled with a bit of the vinaigrette, on a large platter and arrange the vegetables on top. Scatter the bean sprouts over the vegetables
Recipe adapted from Elizabeth Andoh’s Ocean of Flavor, Morrow, 1988.