Satay Pork and Portion Distortion

Despite its name, this version of satay pork is peanut-free and may not necessarily be served as grilled satays or skewers. It can be eaten like a stew with dry and fluffy rice such as basmati and vegetable side dishes. Spicy and tangy, satay pork is best described as a Chinese Indonesian or Nonya dish.

The 1 kilogram of boneless pork that I use for this recipe is theoretically enough for 8 serves, i.e. providing about 100-110 grams of cooked meat per serve. This should be sufficient because both the 2003 Australian Dietary Guidelines and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans stipulate that in general, adults only need about 100 grams of cooked meat or meat alternatives per day (see the note below).

Note that I wrote that the satay pork is theoretically enough for 8 serves. In reality, it often worked out to be enough for 6 serves at most.

Firstly, it is because satay pork is an all-time favourite dish in my household. Second helping/s is a given whenever it is on the menu.

Secondly, many people, including yours truly, have chronic portion-distortion when it comes to meat. This is especially true if for those who frequently eat out. Restaurants have to charge a certain amount to make cover operating costs and healthy profits. At the same time, customers expect value for money. I, for one, do not want to pay $30 for something that looks like an extreme-dieter’s portion. So, we end up getting big steaks and individual dishes that are probably enough to feed 1.5 adults or more.

My ‘band-aid’ solutions are to eat out less often (tight budget is the main reason, really) and eat more slowly to avoid overeating. The slow-eating strategy is working quite well with satay pork. I just have to cook it more often.

© 2012 Lusiana Njo

Satay Pork (Chinese Indonesian Style)

Serves 6-8

Spice mix:
1 tbsp oil
1 candle nut (kemiri)
1 small Spanish onion/2-3 red shallots (bawang merah)
7 garlic cloves
±5cm ginger
2-4 fresh bird-eye chillies (optional)
1 tsp ground lemongrass (serai)/1 stalk lemongrass, bruised
2 tbsp ground coriander (ketumbar)
1 tsp ground galangal (lengkuas)
1/8 tsp ground zedoary/lesser galangae/Kaempferia galanga (kencur)
1 tsp turmeric (kunyit)

1 kg/2.2 lb pork neck/scotch fillet, diced
1-1½ cup hot water
4-5 tbsp kecap manis
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp dark palm sugar (brown sugar is a good substitute)
6 bay leaves (daun salam)
3 lime leaves/kaffir lime leaves
Iodised salt to taste
Juice from 1 lime/lemon

Blend the spice-mix ingredients in a food processor, blender or mortar and pestle. Rub the spice-mix into the diced pork. Leave in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes – 2 hours.

Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add the marinated pork. Brown the pork for about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients except the salt and lemon/lime juice. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Taste the satay pork to check whether you need additional salt. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon/lime juice. Serve immediately with steamed rice and vegetable side dishes. Alternatively, place the cooked satay pork on skewers, grill them until well browned and serve them as satays.


1. Australian Dietary Guidelines (2003) –
2. ‘Choose My Plate’ tool, Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2010) –


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