sate padang – a delicious misnomer Sate Padang – a Delicious Misnomer sate padang1 828x1024

Handful of regions have their own version of grilled skewered meat. Turkey have the Shish Kebab (Kebob? Kabob?), Thailand have Satay, and in Indonesia, we’re particularly proud of our Sate. Sate (you pronounce it like “sauté”) literally means little cuts of meat in skewer. There are many versions of Sate in Indonesia. Sate Padang, Sate Madura, Sate Ponorogo, Sate Lilit, and bunch of other versions that’s delicious in their particular way. The short version is; almost every ethnicity in Indonesia has their own style of Sate, which for me is an amazing thing.

In this post I’m going to talk about Sate Padang. A unique style of Indonesian Sate, and belongs to Minangkabau ethnic group, around West Sumatera. There are several factors that make this Sate unique, and one of them is: Sate Padang is a misnomer. Padang is a small city in the west coast of Sumatera, capital city to West Sumatera Province, and Sate Padang is surely not from Padang. Sate Padang has more than one origin story, because there is more than one type of Sate Padang.


General Characteristic of Sate Padang.

In general, Sate Padang is a type of Sate that has thick gravy, but kind of bland. One plate consists of 5-10 skewers of cooked and smoked meat, cubes of rice cake, the aforementioned gravy, and topped with crispy shallots. There’s a reason why the gravy is not very strong in flavor, it’s because the meat in Sate Padang is already cooked in blend of spices. So if you see a Sate Padang vendor put the meat skewer on flaming charcoal, it’s not actually cooking, it’s just for adding smoky flavor and re-heat the meat. Very different from Thailand Satay and Sate Madura which is raw marinated meat cooked in charcoal and topped with strong and aromatic peanut sauce to balance the more mellow skewer meat flavor.

The selection of meat or protein in Sate Padang is only limited by your imagination. Any protein source that can be marinated, can maintain high heat, and can be put in skewer can be used in Sate Padang. So far, I’ve found; beef (the original), beef tongue, beef innards, chicken, chicken butt, chicken gizzard, chicken liver, chicken intestine, quail’s egg, even tofu. And the addons? You name it. You can add prawn crackers, cow’s skin crackers, cassava chips, anything you want (I recommend something crunchy and able to absorb the gravy).


Groups of Sate Padang.

In my opinion, Sate Padang can be categorized into 3 large groups based on their gravy and origins. Sate Pariaman (orange-red gravy), Sate Padang Panjang/Darek (greenish-yellow gravy) and Sate Danguang-danguang. Lucky for you, because the amount of my free time is as much as my love for Sate Padang, I’ll try to explain each of them.


1. Sate Pariaman

Sate Pariaman is a type of Sate originated from a regency in West Sumatera called Pariaman (duh!). The distinct characteristic of Sate Pariaman is the bright red gravy. And the taste is quite spicier than the other because it contains good amount of red chili (thus the red gravy). In addition, this is the type of Sate Padang that isn’t very well-spread outside of West Sumatera.

2. Sate Padang Panjang / Sate Darek

This type of Sate from Padang Panjang regency has well-spiced gravy but not as spicy as the Pariaman one. Sate Darek has green-yellow-ish colored gravy, because of the turmeric in the spice mix. This is the type of Sate Padang that’s widely available in other regions outside West Sumatera.

3. Sate Danguang-danguang

This is a rather unique type of Sate Padang in my opinion. First, the name. “Danguang” in Minang language means “buzzing”. So “Danguang-danguang” can be roughly translated to “buzzing sounds”. Second, the meat skewer is coated with spiced grated coconut, adding a new dimension of flavor and texture. This type of Sate originated from Lima Puluh Kota regency.


Oh, the gravy? The gravy’s color is orange-brown-ish with a hint of sweetness.

That’s it. Those are the categorization of Sate Padang, based on my experience of eating it since I was a toddler. If you want to taste the authentic Sate Padang, you have to go directly to West Sumatera and travel around the region to try every single type. And if you do travel there, there might be slight differences from what I described here because different vendor has different taste.


On the next post I’ll try to post reviews of Sate Padang places that I personally tested and like.


Disclaimer: This post is not a result of a research with proper method. This is purely from observation and experience. I’m not responsible if you lose your doctorate just because you use this post as reference for your dissertation about Sate Padang.