LOS ANGELES — Indonesian cuisine is known for satay and one local wants to bring it to a larger audience through his pop-up, Satay LA.
Owner Ian Claproth says at an Indonesian family party you will often find a few people gathered around the grill.
“My opa, my uncle, and my dad would be hovering around the satay grill. We would all wait for the satay. That was the main thing at family parties: where is the satay? Once it’s gone, it’s gone. The satay always flies,” said Claproth.
Satay is a dish consisting of meat that’s skewered, often chicken, and then cooked on a grill. Claproth adds, “Honestly in Indonesia, it’s leftover meat.”
His "opa," meaning grandfather, usually took the reins cooking. When he passed away, the tradition of satay in their family went away too. So, Claproth decided to bring it back for his family and now a wider audience in LA through Satay LA, all in honor of the man who inspired him.
“My opa would have been very proud. I know he's proud. It’s a really good feeling,” said Claproth.
He has worked in restaurants before, but didn’t cook much at home until recently when he learned the ropes from his "oma," or grandmother. Once he perfected the family recipe, he wanted to share it, since he felt Indonesian cuisine and even the culture itself isn’t widely known in LA.
“I thought I could bring something different to the market. I think it’s unique and special. To really get people more familiar with something different and simple and delicious,” said Claproth.
So now, Claproth pops up all around Southern California at places like Progress Brewery in El Monte. He added a second meat, pork, which isn’t as traditional. Claproth also implemented a tofu option for the vegetarian audience. All the satay is marinated in a family recipe that has a ketchup-mayo base with garlic and other secret spices he wouldn’t share, except for one.
“We use coriander. We use spices that a lot of other Asian cultures don’t use. I don’t see many coriander recipes out there to be honest. It’s one of the secrets,” said Claproth.
It creates a sweet flavor with a depth of spice, but not necessarily spicy. The satay is paired with a homemade peanut sauce. His cousin Stephanie, who also runs the business with him, makes the vinaigrette for the slaw.
"Everyone loves it,” said Claproth.
Claproth is proud of his Indonesian roots, his dad was born there, but he is also half Mexican. Of course, this means he had to turn satay into a taco.
Whether you try the taco or the traditional skewer, enjoy the taste of Indonesia at Satay LA popping up around Southern California. To find their location, follow them on Instagram.