PhD students live on rather stringent budgets and consequently, less pricey dining options are handy. I adore the many street food vendors and stalls in Malaysia, with the loud and varied voices in different languages and the amazing smells of lemongrass, chilli and smoke in the air. Eating at any type of hawker stalls is problematic with food allergies as stall operators serve hundreds of meals in short spaces of time. Satay stalls offer a safe bet as long as you aren’t allergic to peanuts.

Satay is a traditional Malay dish, consisting of grilled meat skewers, served with a spicy, peanut sauce, rice moulded into squares, steamed with pandan (screwpine) leaves and wrapped in banana leaves, raw cucumbers and onions. The skewers are meat, either chicken, beef or lamb, marinated in a mix of turmeric, garlic, lemongrass, onions and ginger, with salt to taste. The peanut sauce uses similar spices, peanuts, dried chillies, brown sugar and tamarind pulp for that tangy sour kick. Recipes vary so here is the quiz list before you indulge:

1. Was soy sauce or kicap used?

2. Did they dust the meat with any flour?

3. Is the sauce made with bottled chilli sauce or is it from a jar, tin or packet?

Sometimes, hawkers are sure about the meat but the sauce was made elsewhere. I have the skewers without sauce and they are still spicy, moist morsels of meat when I can’t confirm lack of gluten. During Chinese New Year, I ate thirty-five sticks of chicken satay. A small disclaimer on satay, I have it only from a stand-alone stall where it is the only dish made on the grill as there isn’t the likelihood of cross-contamination.

Kiss kiss,


Found at roadside stalls throughout Malaysia


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