To Sauté Or To Sate?

Sate Jawa Lamb and Chicken. Photo by Doris Lim

This girl has been going vegan for a few days which preludes the three days straight, of eating Bee Hoon soup. This is pathetic when one is not sick. She bobs the fish balls, pork balls and mincemeat ball in the soup and swirl aimlessly over lunch. The miserable pieces of mustard green float around with the Chinese cabbage in the soup.

Stir fried vegetable and rice chap fun style sans meat makes her crave for something meaty, gamey. A caveman BBQ of sort came to mind. There’s something primal about roasting meat over an open fire.

Actually this works out better without actually killing.

This girl’s dog probably thinks that she’s a great hunter, grocery shopping and returning home with chicken, pork, meat and fish. Plus those that dog eats out of cans.

With a Singaporean in tow, this girl heads to the only place worthy to sample these tasty morsels. A long crawl across town to Relau, home of Sate Jawa. Where the traffic snarls and motorcycles careen around the bend, two of them hand in hand, with an arm stretch out (traffic cop style) brave the open road, racing and ambling over.

“Surprise me,” the Singaporean said. This girl dizzy with hunger and greed pounce on the stall, eyes bigger than stomach and orders: wisely (this time, she’s learnt her lesson well) to share, one serve each, 5 sticks chicken and 5 sticks lamb. In her mind she orders 500 sticks lamb; who eats chicken anyway? Singaporeans?

The Indonesian style sate with the chicken and lamb is marinated lightly and grilled over hot flaming coals giving it that rich smoky, caramelised flavour. The sauce is Indonesian sweet thick black soy sauce with chilli and heaps of pounded peanut. Everything is heaped on the plate with onion slivers and cucumber slices and that single slice of lime. To wring its refreshing sour juice over the meat and sauce.

As if that’s not enough, there’s gulai tulang (bone curry) to contend with. “You could have it with rice.” This girl said to Singaporean.

“What do you normally have?” was the clever retort in reply.

This girl recalls all the day trips she has taken for work over the years and remembers her rewards well, turning the curve out of the airport and heading towards Relau. Anything but airport food.

“Fried Bee Hoon with lard and deep fried juicy fish chunks” this girl grins.


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