Even though I wasn’t going to eat any sate in Malaysia because we all know it was invented in Indonesia and they probably stole it just like they stole dangdut and Manohara (but they ain’t going to get Ambalat, dammit!), I ended up giving in when I saw that there was a local specialty called sate celup, which is cooked much differently to your normal smoky street grilled sate sticks of goodness.
Sate celup stands have a big hole in the middle of the table, which is actually a pot of sate sauce, a little runnier that the usual sate sauce, which is boiled from below by some magical gas tank contraption that one hopes meets some sort of safety standards. See the picture above.
I had my sate celup at the Jonker Walk weekend night markets, but there are lots of sate celup stores around, each boasting some sort of special ingredient in their sauce. At this stand, the owner told me that her otak-otak skewers were the most delicious around. I wasn’t in town long enough to do a comparative study though. Below is a picture of some of the range of sticks you could choose. There was a little stand of them, you paid by the stick, and then plonked yourself down at one of the circular tables/cooking pots. There were sticks with eggplant, beef, prawns, otak-otak, dumplings, fish balls… all manner of things.
Then, to cook the raw and semi-raw ingredients, you just stick them in the boiling pot of sate sauce. It’s hard to know exactly how long to keep them in there for… for the precooked stuff, it doesn’t need too long, but the raw meat and seafood is a bit more of an art.
As for the taste, the sate sauce had a bit of a kick, but a kick I call “tourist chili lite”… enough spice to excite but not to offend. It wasn’t as robust a peanut flavour as your traditional grilled sate sticks. But the otak-otak sticks were pretty yummy. I think this style of sate is about the fun factor though… there were lots of large groups and families enjoying the ceremony of cooking their own food in the pots. Definitely good fun.
But pretty messy. If I made this much of a mess, just imagine what the kids on the next table were doing. But that’s the joy of street food… nobody cares!