Time for some satay. Not the usual Malay satay that we all know and love but the pork variety with its spicy & tangy peanut sauce. It’s the Chinese (Hainanese to be precise) version of satay using our favourite meat (pork). The peanut sauce is spicy and tangy with a dollop of sweet finely minced pineapple.
Traditional Hainanese Pork Satay comes in 5 sections – meat, fat, meat, fat. meat. It’s the chunks of fat that make the pork satay really juicy and tasty. When perfectly grilled, the pork satay is filled with crispy fat. Due to health concerns, I have reduced the amount of fat used by using very lean belly pork in this recipe.
The traditional way is to cut the pork belly into 1″ x ½” pieces, making sure each piece has a couple layers of fat. An alternative is to slice the pork belly thinly length-wise into long strips of thin slices of pork (like bacon slices). Freeze the slab first and slicing it thinly will be an easy task. I find that cutting the pork belly this way ensures the meat is well seasoned and quick to grill. It also helps with the threading of the meat through the skewers.
500 gm pork belly (cut into long thin strips or 1″ x ½” pieces)
20-25 bamboo skewers (soak in water for a couple of hours)
(keep 2 Tbsp of this marinade for the spice paste)
- 10-12 shallots
- 4 cloves garlic
- 4 slices ginger
- 2 stalks of lemongrass
- 2 Tbsp coriander powder
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp sweet dark soy sauce
- 4 Tbsp oil
SPICE PASTE FOR PEANUT SAUCE **
- 2 Tbsp of the marinade (see *)
- 1 stalk lemongrass
- 6 shallots
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 slices ginger
- 3 dried red chillies (de-seeded)
- 3 Tbsp oil
- Spice paste (see **)
- 4 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 cup toasted peanuts
- 1 tsp tamarind puree
- 200 ml water
- 2 Tbsp fresh pineapple
- 1 cucumber (cut into small pieces)
- 1 red onion (cut into quarters)
- 1 pineapple (cut into small pieces)
- Compressed rice cakes (cut into bite size pieces)
MARINADE THE PORK BELLY
- Put all the marinade ingredients in a blender and blend into a smooth paste. Remove 2 tablespoons of the marinade – to be added to the sauce mixture (see step no. 4 below).
- Slice the belly pork into thin long strips or 1″ x ½” pieces.
- Oil the top portion of the skewer. Thread belly pork pieces onto skewers.
- Spread marinade over the pork belly. Marinate for a few hours, preferably overnight.
PREPARE THE PEANUT SAUCE
- Blend the spice paste ingredients in a blender into a smooth paste.
- Fry the spice paste over low heat till the oil starts to separate out.
- Add tamarind puree, ground peanut and water to the paste and bring it to a boil.
- Simmer the peanut sauce for 10-15 minutes. For the traditional Hainanese peanut sauce, add a dollop of finely minced pineapple to the peanut sauce just before serving.
GRILL / BBQ PORK SKEWERS (see notes below)
- Brush the pork skewers with a little oil.
- Barbeque or grill the pork skewers over high heat until the meat is cooked and slightly charred. Turn over the skewers to ensure even browning.
- Serve the grilled pork satay with peanut sauce and accompaniment.
- Oiling the top portion of the skewer will make it easier to thread the pork onto the skewers. It will also be easier to remove the pork after grilling.
- There are various grilling options: grill over the stove in a grill pan, broil in the oven or air fryer or barbeque over charcoal. The barbeque option produces the best result.
- When barbequing, brush the pork skewers with oil. Use lemon grass stalks as a brush. This will provide flavour and aroma.