Grilled Thai Beef Satay with Peanut Sauce

September 4, 2011

When I order Thai food I rarely get peanut sauce. It’s just not my usual cup of tea. But I’ve seen online that other like-minded peanut-avoiders love this sauce, so made it anyway. The sauce does have a heavy peanut taste, but the slight heat and other complexities play off the beefy flavors very well. I’d recommend trying the sauce regardless on your preconceived opinions. The beef had great flavor and was a hit with both my two sons, but neither liked the sauce (one doesn’t like peanuts, and the other thought it was too spicy). Overall, it was a big hit, 4-stars, and I’m sure I will make it again. I might try this cucumber relish next time.

Delicious grilled Thai beef skewers. Worth the 3 hour investment.

Actually, Cooks Illustrated actually has two recipes for beef Satay. I made the 2007 recipe. It uses more common ingredients; for example, cilantro instead of lemon grass. The new recipe also uses Thai red curry paste, coconut milk, and roasted unsalted peanuts (I only every buy salted peanuts). Here is the brand new recipe from September 2011, which sounds even more authentic.  The new 2011 peanut sauce is here.


  1. When slicing your beef into strips it important to get the correct angle. If you slice at only 45-degree angle will yield slices of 3/4-to-1″ wide. Keep cutting at a shallower angle until your slices are 1/4″-thick and 1-1/2″-wide.
  2. As usual, Chris Kimball’s recipes yield twice as much sauce. I’ve pared down the below recipe to yield half the original amount, which should be perfect. I find it wasteful to always make too much sauce, because realistically I wouldn’t use this for anything else.
  3. The original recipe calls for hardwood charcoal, but I just used my regular Kingsford (see issues here).

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $16.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium
Start time 3:00 PM. Dinnertime: 6:10 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original 2007 recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it today are given below:

Beef Satay:

1 large whole flank steak (2 pounds)
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
2 medium garlic cloves
4 scallions
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Asian chili sauce
24 bamboo or other wooden skewers

Peanut Sauce:
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter (2-1/2 oz)
2 Tablespoons cold water (heated for 15 seconds in microwave)
1 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoons Asian chili sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
1 small garlic clove
1 scallions

  1. Cut flank steak in half lengthwise (with the grain) and freeze for 30 minutes.
  2. While the meat is freezing, slice white and green part of 4 scallions thin in large glass bowl. Mince enough fresh cilantro leaves to yield 1/4 cup. Peel and press 2 garlic clove. Combine fish sauce, oil, chili sauce, brown sugar. Stir to combine. Soak 20 to 24 bamboo skewers in water in a Pyrex casserole dish, to prevent the skewers from burning.
  3. Slice the two pieces of flank steak across grain into 1/4″-thick strips. At a 30-degree angle your slices should be 1-1/2″ wide.  If they are not 1-1/2″ wide, then make your angle shallower until you get wider strips.
  4. Add steak strips with sauce and use a spatula to coat evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. While the meat marinates make the peanut sauce which will take about 15 minutes. Heat 2 tablespoons of cold water in microwave for 20 seconds in a small mixing bowl. Whisk 1/4 cup of peanut butter together with the hot water. Slice white and green part of scallion thin and add to sauce. Peel and press 1 small garlic clove directly into bowl. Stir in the remaining sauce ingredients. If desired put the peanut sauce in a separate serving bowl. Set aside until dinner at room temperature.
  6. Remove the soaking wooden skewers from Pyrex casserole dish. Dry the casserole so that you can re-use to carry your prepared beef skewers.
  7. Weave the meat onto skewers. I was able to get 2-to-3 strips on meat per skewers.  Lay flat in your flat casserole dish. Cover again with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the charcoal is ready.
  8. Light a large chimney starter filled with 6-quarts of hardwood charcoal. Allow to ignite for 30 minutes until covered with layer of fine gray ash.
  9. Spread coals over bottom of grill into an even layer. Replace cooking grate, cover with lid, and let cooking grate heat up for 5 minutes. That will allow your grill brush to be much more effective..
  10. Spread half of skewers over the hot cooking grate. Cook, uncovered, for 4 minutes per side. The meat should be lightly charred around edges.
  11. Put on a large serving platter and cover tightly with aluminum foil to keep warm while you cook the remaining skewers.
  12. Serve immediately with the peanut sauce.

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