Unique Flavors of Western Mindanao: Satti

Photo Credit: Jo Bulahan
When visiting Zamboanga, a traveler’s first tour in the morning is to visit a satti house for breakfast. Satti is the spicy dish popular among locals of Zamboanga. It is the food that perks up your morning. Satti is served with sticky rice uniquely cooked in a wooven coconut leaf to create its square-like shape, and sticks of grilled beef and chicken meat swimming in the thick, spicy and hot sauce. It is the sauce that makes all the difference giving it the special taste. Zamboangueños claim that your Zamboanga trip is never complete without this food. From the wisdom of the old (my dad) who had been eating satti most of his mornings: find a satti house operated by a Chinese because they make tasteful sauce distinct from the rest.

The unique flavor of this food is what makes many Chavacanos (people of Zamboanga) miss their home. Mornings in Zamboanga for many joggers, students and office workers begin at a satti house. It has become the comfort food for many because of its rich texture and spicy flavor that gives a calming sensation. This is one food that can make your heart a beat faster and sweat glands get to work.

A serving of satti is a complete meal. It’s a great starter for the day.  To make the sauce, several spices are blended altogether: dulaw (turmeric), sambal,curry, lemon grass, native pepper, red cayenne pepper, garlic, cumin, coriander, chili, onions and salt. These ingredients are pounded until texture becomes powdery. To refine and thicken the sauce, cornstarch is added and stirred continuously until you achieve the desired consistency. You can use tomatoes, soy sauce, and peanuts optionally to tame the zesty flavor. We have never tried cooking satti at home; but I wish to share the recipe I found from a Facebook Page by a Zamboangueño:

SATTI de Zamboanga

How to make SAMBAL (Soup). This is for a 7 - 8 quart pot

1.     -  Siling labuyo (Catumbal)          1/4 cup  ( 1/2 - 1 cup if you want it “hotter”)             or                      Habanero Chilli pepper           8 peppers (12 - 15 if you want fire) 
2.     -  Ginger                                      5 thump size                            
3.     -  Turmeric (azafran)                    4 thump size                                        
4.     -  Onions                                     1 Bulb (fist size)
5.     -  Oregano                                   6 leaves (or 1 teasespoon if power is used)
6.     -  Oil
7.     -  Shrimp paste (Bagon)               ¼ -1/2 tsp
8.     -  Tomato                                    1
9.     -  Flour                                        1/2 cup +
10.   -  Corn Starch                              1/2 cup +
11.   -  Sugar                                        1 1/2 cu
12.   -  Salt                                           1 tbsp
13.   -  Anito Power (Achuete)              15g (2 packs)
14.   -  Knorr Cube (Chicken)               3 - 4 cubes
15.   -  Coconut milk (gata)*                  ¼ cup or les 
16.   – Peanut butter                              1 tsp
17.   – Curry Power                               ½ - 1 tsp (optional)
            18.  -- Taro Root (tumon)*                    small size  (about 2 inches in diameter)  


Step 1: Boil 6 quarts of water. Add the taro root(if you have some). Add ingredients 14, 15, and 17. When boiling, stir,

Step 2: Mince and Blend ingredients 1 to 5 (add small amount of water just enough to start the blend)

            Step 3: Mix ingredients 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13. Add 1 cup( or more) of water, stir until free                          of lumps.  

Step 4: Sauté (Gisa) shrimp paste and tomato with oil then add the mixed ingredients 1 to 5 (Sauté until partly dried)

Step 5: Pour the sauté into the boiling water, stir, then add coconut milk(optional). Add the mix from step 3. add water to reach desired thickness.

Keep in medium flame for 15 - 30 minutes (or more) with frequent stirring to avoid "stickings" on the pot. Add water to lessen the thickness of the soup – if you prefer it that way.

Cool down for 2 minutes then serve. Enjoy

You can refrigerate it or freeze for later use. Microwave every bowl for 3-4 minutes. Stir in between heating. Just a tip, stove/fire heating the sambal seems to be better than microwaving. Just dub the pot with oil before pouring the sambal. Stir occasionally while heating.

            How to Prepare the Beef or Chicken on sticks :

 - Marinate with calamansi, salt, sugar and achuete
             - Brush with coconut milk (optional)

 PUSO’: The Rice (since coconut leave is hard to find here in the US, just cook it in a rice cooker with less water - just enough to cook the rice. 

The author added a note that the recipe he shared including all measurements were based from his personal preference of taste. I just shared the ingredients and steps to prepare and cook satti ala Zamboangueño style. You can play with the taste by experimenting a little bit with the basic measurements and procedures. I have never tried this recipe at home so for those who will try this, I’d be happy to hear about your feedback.

Written by: Marjorie Bulahan
Author bio:  Marjorie is a communications specialist, a capitalist, a writer/editor, a wife and mom to two beautiful girls. She blogs about family, food, travel, e-commerce, and affiliate marketing. She is interested in bikes, cars and research updates about Russell Silver Syndrome (RSS) and Global Developmental Delay (GDD).
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  1. Very interesting..
    Something to look forward to when I step foot in Zambo.
    I'll never leave Zambo w/o a taste of this

  2. Always wanted to go to Zamboanga due its people and unique culture... and of course, to try out their food and other specialties.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
  4. Zamboanga's satti is almost similar to Malaysia's satay. There are just some difference with the sauce. You have to try this whenever you visit Mindanao.

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  6. Jennifer you can post here https://www.facebook.com/groups/filblogatw/

  7. Thank God the original recipe was kept secret

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