• Singapore Shrimp Satay (Satay Udang)

    Singapore Shrimp Satay (Satay Udang)

    Singapore Shrimp Satay (Satay Udang)

    It may be “Labor” Day weekend, but when summer is coming to a close the last thing we want to do is heavy work in the kitchen. Nope, we want quick, easy and tasty dishes for the grill. We want to maximize our outside time with friends, eat good food and perhaps enjoy a few tasty beverages (and whine that real live starts again). But what if we want to go beyond the standard burgers and hot dogs? Enter satay, the Southeast Asian staple of some kind of protein on a stick cooked over a hot fire. Meat..Stick.. Fire….Yumm….More????


    Mix one of these before you get started.

    Mix one of these before you get started.

    We aren’t sure were we first tried this dish, also called Satay Udang, but it was one of those dishes were we immediately said, “we gotta make this at home”. There are all sorts of shrimp satay, but this version uses a sweet and spicy marinade most often associated with Singapore street food, and if you say “Singapore”and “street food” you will get our immediate culinary attention. (FYI, Singapore created food courts just for street food vendors to control sanitation…..and just maybe tax revenue.)

    satay11satay10satay9The key to this dish is a spicy marinade with aromatics, coconut milk, hot peppers and a surprise element of crushed macadamia nuts. The nuts are ground so they don’t add crunch, but they do lend a surprising richness to the shrimp that augments the coconut milk. The other slight surprise is a four-hour marinating time, as most fish marinades are under an hour, but in this case the shrimp handle the marinade just fine.

    satay8satay7We found this recipe at Saveur but did make a few changes. Firstly the original recipe calls for three Thai Bird chiles. Thai’s run at 50k to 100k Scoville units and are very hot. If you like spice, but don’t love it, we suggest Cayennes¬†at about 30k or Serranos at 15k. These peppers are still spicy and taste great, but won’t blow your head off. (As it is, don’t breathe too deeply or touch your eyes while making the marinade…trust us on this one.) Secondly, we added some extra coconut milk to mellow the spice a bit more, but you can add less if you like.

    satay6satay4Otherwise, putting this dish together is easy. Process the aromatics and peppers, cook them with the coconut milk, chill the mixture, add the shrimp and marinate for 4 hours. Then skewer the shrimp and cook over a hot fire. The cooking mellows the heat of the chiles and what you get are beautiful charred shrimp with a perfect mix of sweet and spice with just a bit of crunch. Good stuff and a nice change of pace for the holiday. Have fun this weekend!

    satay1Singapore Shrimp Satay (Satay Udang):

    (Adapted from Saveur)

    Notes Before You Start:

    • The size and heat of chiles vary. Thai Bird chiles tend to be small, Serranos medium and Cayennes larger. The original recipe wants three Thai chiles, we used one Cayenne and would suggest two Serranos. Err on the side of less spice, you can always add it later.
    • The recipe also calls for Kaffir lime leaves. If you don’t have the leaves, the zest of a few limes can substitute.

    What You Get: Very flavorful shrimp that work as a snack, with rice or in tacos.

    What You Need: A hot fire.

    How Long? About 4 and a half hours, but only about 15 minutes of active time. The only thing you have to do is wait on the marinade. Weekend dish.

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  • Coconut – Curry Cabbage

    Coconut-Curry Cabbage, served with seared ahi and coconut rice.

    As we mentioned a few posts ago, we made a Hawaiian-themed meal for some friends last week and it featured this cabbage dish. And since we liked it so much, we decided to make it again and post it. This cabbage recipe takes just a few minutes to make, but the mixture of bright, crispy cabbage with rich coconut milk and “funky” curry paste (and, optionally, fish sauce) is a real winner and a great compliment to tropical or Asian-influenced dishes.

    Basic ingredients that are available in most grocery stores.

    The recipe itself is easy, but very tasty. It comes from Bev Gannon’s Hali’imaile General Store Cookbook. This is a restaurant cookbook that often features very ornate and complicated preparations. But the flavor combinations in Gannon’s dishes are always original and intriguing, so usually we use the cookbook for inspiration and adapt the recipes, but this recipe only has minor revisions. It is one of the simplest recipes in the cookbook, and perhaps not surprisingly, one of the best (IMHO).

    Slice the cabbage and dice the onion.

    Saute the onion and the curry paste.

    You start by dicing a small onion and then thinly slicing a medium green cabbage. Then, in a large skillet, add some oil and then soften the onion over medium-high heat. Add a few tablespoons of green (or yellow) curry paste and some salt and cook for a few more minutes. Add the sliced cabbage and cook for a minute or two and then add about a cup of coconut milk. Simmer the cabbage for 6-8 minutes, or until the coconut milk reduces. Then add a splash of fish sauce (if you like it, we do), taste for seasoning, sprinkle on a few black sesame seeds and serve.

    Add cabbage and coconut milk and briefly simmer. Season with fish sauce and salt.

    Garnish with black sesame seeds.

    Another bonus to this dish is that it is easy to scale up/down the recipe to match the number of guests. Expect that 1 medium cabbage will feed 4 guests. So use an overall ratio of 1 cabbage / one tablespoon cooking oil / one-half of a small onion / 1-2 tablespoons of curry paste / 1 cup of coconut milk / 1 tablespoon salt / 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds / fish sauce to taste. You can simply increase or decrease the recipe to match your needs. And as you can make this dish ahead, and then reheat it before service, this is a great side dish for entertaining.

    So far, we enjoyed this dish as a side with sesame-crusted opah and with seared ahi. In both cases, the cabbage added a bit of crunch, pleasant richness and that touch of curry “funk” to the overall dish. As we really like coconut, we serve the cabbage along with coconut rice, and rather than being “too much” we find they are an excellent compliment to each other.

    A great compliment to fish and rice.

    As Californians, and living near the “Cadillac Desert”, we get cabbage year-round. We love making cole-slaw for summer barbecues and putting shredded cabbage in our tacos. But this dish takes cabbage to another level and is worth making at any time of year. And if you live in an area where cabbage is a fall / winter crop, we suggest you try this dish when cabbage is in season- it will give you a quick taste of the tropics.

    Coconut-Curry Cabbage:

    (Adapted from Beverly Gannon)

    Notes Before You Start:

    • You can use green or yellow curry paste in this dish. Curry paste varies, so make sure to add a little, taste and adjust the first time you make this dish.

    What You Get: A tasty, sweet cabbage dish. A particularly good side with tropical or Asian-influenced fish dishes.

    What You Need: No special equipment required.

    How Long? About 20 minutes. The only real “work” is slicing the cabbage and onion.


    (serves 4)

    • 1 medium green cabbage, thinly sliced- 3-4 cups
    • 1/2 small white onion, diced
    • 1 tablespoon canola or other vegetable oil
    • 1 to 2 tablespoons green or yellow curry paste
    • 1 cup coconut milk
    • 1/2 tablespoon salt (or to taste)
    • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce (or to taste- optional)
    • 1-2 tablespoons black sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)


    1. Slice the cabbage and dice the onion.
    2. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and then the onion and curry paste and saute for 3-4 minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the cabbage and cook for 1-2 minutes, until it just starts to wilt. Add the coconut milk and simmer for 6-8 minutes, or until the coconut milk reduces and the cabbage is tender, but retains some crunch. Taste and season with salt and fish sauce, if using. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds and serve.