Sate Padang: Padang-Style Beef Tongue Satay

A delicious Padang dish of beef tongue skewers, cooked in a complex spice mixed, grilled to perfection, and enjoyed with a tangy sauce.

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Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk hails from Solo, the historic royal capital and cultural centre of Java, Indonesia. She has been cooking since the age of 12, and also performs and teaches traditional Javanese dance. Her dream is to eventually write her own Indonesian cookbook.

Sate is a traditional dish consisting of small pieces of meat grilled on a skewer, and served with sauce and other accompaniments or garnishes. According to Murdijati Gardjito, a professor in food technology and science at Gadjah Mada University (UGM), Yogyakarta, Indonesia is home to 252 satay varieties. It’s so widespread, she thinks it deserves to be known as one of Indonesia’s greatest culinary treasures.

Sate Padang is a variety of sate originating in Padang, West Sumatra. Here, meat or offal is boiled, and then grilled over hot charcoal and served with a generous amount of thick, porridge-like sauce. Depending on which area of the large Padang region you go to, the sauce may differ in colour. For example, Padang Panjang sate has yellow sauce, while sate from Pariaman has red sauce. Sate Padang is typically sold as street food in push carts in Indonesia. 

Like most other Padang dishes, this sate is truly an explosion of flavour. The land itself is fertile and rich in spices, and none of it is spared in making this sate

Generally, Sate Padang is prepared using (beef) meat and offal. Ox tongue is quite a common ingredient for the dish, and it is also used in this recipe. Despite its peculiar appearance, ox tongue is a delicacy, and has a tender texture. It’s delicious in many different recipes, including Sate Padang.

The way Sate Padang is prepared is what makes it so special. There are many steps involved, including boiling the meat until it’s half done, then taking it out from the broth and simmering it in a mixture of spices until the meat is tender and all the flavors are fully absorbed. The bite-sized meat is then skewered and grilled to perfection.

Sate Padang is usually served on top of sliced ketupat/lontong (rice cake). The duo is then literally soaked in a good amount of sauce until we can’t see a thing, and then sprinkled with lots of fragrant fried shallots. For the first timer, the dish will be a real mystery, as everything is hidden under a gooey yellow sauce. But trust me, the sauce is what makes it taste so good! The sauce is made using broth and spices,  and thickened with rice flour. The lovely thing about the gravy is that it doesn’t mask the spices, but rather adds a nice complementary coating to the overall flavor. Delicious!

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Sate Padang: Padang-Style Beef Tongue Satay

  • Author: Nunuk Sri Rahayu
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 110 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Beef & Lamb
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Halal


Sate padang is one of Indonesia’s 252 types of satay, or grilled meat on wooden skewers, and is known for its rich and complex flavour with many spices. In today’s recipe, we’ve made beef tongue satay, which is quite common.


  • 1 beef tongue (around 750 gr-1kg)
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped
  • 8 shallots, peeled, chopped
  • 6 curly red chillies (or 2 big red chillies), chopped
  • 2 cm ginger, peeled, chopped
  • 2 cm galangal, chopped
  • 4 cm turmeric, peeled, chopped
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp white pepper powder
  • 1 tsp aniseed
  • 5 cm cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 cardamom
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 lemongrass, use only the white parts, bruised and cut in smaller pieces (or knotted)
  • 2 salam leaves
  • 1 turmeric leaf (optional)
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 tsp tamarind extract
  • 3 tbsp rice flour
  • Salt to taste
  • 0.5 lt beef broth from the boiled beef tongue
  • Water for boiling
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 15-20 satay skewers

    For garnish:

  • Lontong/ketupat
  • Fried shallots



If tongue is unavailable, or it’s just not your favorite kind of meat, always feel free to use regular meat instead. It will be just as delicious!

Keywords: grilled meat, special occasions

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