4 Tips for Making Better Beef Satay, According to Adam Liaw

4 Tips for Making Better Beef Satay, According to Adam Liaw

Whenever I’m home alone and feel like watching something soothing, I’ll pop on one thing: Adam Liaw’s Destination Flavour. The SBS food series blends two of my favourite things: travel and food, and it offers loads of helpful cooking tips along the way. During one recent Destination Flavour session of mine – I was watching the Singaporean season – Liaw guided audiences on how to make a hugely popular recipe: satay sauce.

Along the way, he offered insider tips and explained how to master the sauce at home. Here are the key takeaways from what he shared.

Adam Liaw’s guide to the perfect satay sauce recipe

In the episode, Liaw explained that satay is something you’ll find prepared by street vendors all over Singapore. He shared a recipe for beef in satay sauce, but the full recipe states you can also use chicken, lamb or goat.

Below, we’ve shared four of the best tips given by Liaw in his guide to making beef satay. Check them out and see if it changes how you make this classic dish at home.

  • When it comes to preparing satay sauce over a coal fire or barbeque, Liaw recommends that you “get your fire burning early”. He suggested aiming for red-hot or even white-hot coals to ensure the heat level you’re working with is high enough.
  • Lemongrass plays a part in the preparation of the satay sauce recipe, but Liaw explained that you shouldn’t throw away the outer sections of the lemongrass. “We’ll put them to very good use in many other applications,” he said. One such example is that you can pound down the external strands of the lemongrass, cut off the bottoms and tie the pieces together. You can later use this to help infuse flavour in your meat as it cooks. (Check out the full guide here).
  • In this satay recipe, Liaw uses beef topside. He explained in his video that you want to cut against the grain, “so it’s nice and easy to skewer onto your satay, and it’s not too tough when you bite into it”.
  • Skewer pieces of meat onto the skewer multiple times. This “keeps it nice and tight. [It] Stops it from sliding around; stops it from slipping off”. He also said it’s best to only add meat to the top third of the skewer.

Now, for the ingredients:

What you’ll need for your satay sauce recipe:

  • 1 kg beef topside
  • 50 small bamboo skewers
  • 125 ml (½ cup) peanut oil, for brushing
  • cucumber and red onion pieces, to serve


  • 1 medium brown onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, tender inner core only, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp peanut oil

Peanut sauce

  • 10 large dried chillies, de-seeded and soaked in hot water for 20 minutes
  • 2 medium brown onions, sliced sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, tender inner core only, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp belacan (shrimp paste)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) peanut oil
  • 300 g ground roasted peanuts
  • 400 ml coconut cream
  • 1 tbsp tamarind pulp
  • 125 ml (½ cup) hot water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

You can find the full recipe and a video guide to making beef with satay sauce here.

For more cooking tips from Adam Liaw (we’ve covered a few!) check out these pieces on chicken nuggets, flatbread and how to pick the perfect watermelon.

Lead Image Credit: SBS Destination Flavour

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