Thai Tempeh Satay with Peanut Sauce

Traditionally a ‘satay’ dish is seasoned, skewered and grilled meat served with a sauce usually containing peanuts. The satay is often thought to be from Thailand, but that’s due to the popularity of the Thai cuisine. The origins of the satay go back to Indonesia.

My first experience of this Thai appetizer was the Whole Foods Market in Bellevue, WA. For several years, I was one of their catering specialists and I had the pleasure of making vibrant platters of scrumptious food. As soon as it started warming up, skewers were a popular request. We made beef, chicken, portabella, and tofu skewers. Although I was newly vegan and never actually had one, the Thai Chicken skewers were my favorite because of their golden turmeric color.

The bright color still draws me in, but now I also seek out turmeric because it’s such a healing food. As a fresh root or a dried spice, turmeric helps reducing inflammation, regulate blood pressure, lower cholesterol, tighten the skin, and so much more.

Being the tempeh fanatic that I am, there was no question of what I’d feature in my meatless skewers.

That’s right, we’re making Thai Tempeh Satay!

You could also use tofu, but I think the hearty texture and umami flavor of tempeh make it the better choice here.

Plus, from a nutritional standpoint, Tempeh takes the lead in two main ways…

1) Tofu is made from soymilk, which has had the fiber removed. No fiber = no bueno. With tempeh, you can actually still see the intact fiber-rich soybeans.

2) Tempeh is a fermented food, so it is full of probiotics (aka healthy bacteria) that keep our guts healthy and happy.

Rich in flavor AND rich in nutrients. What else could you ask for?
 

Thai Tempeh Satay with Peanut Sauce

Recipe by Katie Mae

Makes 8­–10 skewers | Ready in 20 minutes | Stores 1 week in fridge

FOR TEMPEH SKEWERS

2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
2 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ cup lime juiced (2–3 limes, juiced)
¼ cup white sesame seeds (toasted for added flavor)
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari (optional)
½ tablespoon ground coriander
½ tablespoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
1 Medjool date, pitted (optional)
8 oz package of tempeh
10 skewers (wooden or stainless steel)

FOR PEANUT SAUCE

¼ cup unsweetened peanut butter
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 Medjool date, pitted (optional)
½ lime, juiced
 

ACTION STEPS

  1. To make the marinade, add the ingredients from the fresh ginger through the Medjool date to a blender. Process to a smooth, even consistency.
  2. To make the peanut sauce, add all of the sauce ingredients to a blender and blend until creamy. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Remove the tempeh from the package and slice into 8 to 10 pieces, about ¾-inch wide by 3 to 4 inches long. The number of pieces you slice and their size may vary, depending on the shape of the package. Place the tempeh slices in a wide shallow dish or a zipper storage bag.
  4. Transfer the marinade to the container with the tempeh, make sure that all of the tempeh is coated with the marinade. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes. The longer it marinates for, the deeper the flavor will be, but the easier it will be for the tempeh to fall apart.
  5. To make the skewers, thread the tempeh onto the wooden or stainless-steel skewers (soak wooden ones in water 10 minutes beforehand to prevent burning). Save the leftover marinade for basting.
  6. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Place the skewers on the grill. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until they are warmed and lightly marked. Then flip and cook the second side for 3 to 4 minutes. Serve right off the grill with the peanut sauce for dipping.

 

CHEF’S NOTES

Although it helps minimize sticking, it is not necessary to oil the grill first. I use a non-stick grill pan from Scanpan, and it works amazingly well without any oil. If you’re using an outdoor grill, you can place the skewers in aluminum foil and place that on the grill. This prevents sticking but limits the grill marks.

You can also make this dish in the oven. Soak wooden satay sticks at least 10 minutes first. Set oven to BROIL. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add the skewers. Place the pan on the top rack in the oven and broil until the tempeh starts to blacken. Flip and blacken the second side if you desire.

Don’t have any skewers? No problem! You can grill or bake the tempeh without them. Serve them over a bed of greens instead. I love this combo because it quickly drops the calorie density of the dish. Below you can see how I served the Thai tempeh over steamed greens and drizzled the peanut sauce over top.

If I make this dish as a party appetizer, I’ll probably stick with the skewers because they’re so portable, but as an everyday meal for myself, it’s going to be over greens every time!
 
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