Hawaiian Satay
The Taste of Steak, a Fraction of the Price

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Garlic – a Key Ingredient

The same day my cousin Hank and I drove to Wauluku to see the Squid and Starfish and have the Hawaiian Picnic Vegetables, we also grilled some Beef Steak on skewers over the hot coals.

When I was raving about the taste, he told me they weren’t actually Beef Steak or Fiiet at all, but cut out of Beef Hearts.

“Our maid, Hanako San, learned to make them from a relative who had lived in Peru for a while and then moved to Hawaii. He eventually became a baker in Honolulu, specializing in Malasadas. Along the way she picked up some of his Peruvian recipes, including this one. We call them Anticuchos, or Meat Sticks.”

“Aren’t Malasadas Portuguese?”

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Rice Vinegar

“Yes, and we have a very Cosmopolitan cuisine and culture.  So it’s perfectly natural that a Japanese-American family would be cooking a Peruvian dish for their barbecue, and adding Haole ingredients like Butter or Wine to the mix.”

They did taste like a high-quality Beef Steak or Rump Roast.  Hank explained that they cost probably one-tenth as much. “Of course, you have to slice them in thin strips and the marination is essential, the longer the better.  Overnight is fine. The marinating makes all the difference.”

I enjoyed these Satay-like meat skewers so much I asked his wife Olga to give me the recipe, and she provided a formula she had gotten from watching Hanako San make the Anticuchos many time.

The Cumin Makes It: “Our local cooks aren’t too strong on measurements or recipes, so it took quite a few times to reduce it to normal Stateside measurements. And,. by the way, we always call them Anticuchos, not Beef Heart Sticks.  The reason — Beef Heart, like most organ meats, has an image problem, but when you say it in Spanish, no one really focuses on the origin of these things.”

Here’s the recipe my cousin Olga had written down:

Anticuchos, or Meat Sticks, are a kind of Satay or skewered meat cooking, that originated in Peru.  It has become popular in Hawaii, where it traveled by a roundabout route.  It may have been carried by Japanese emigrants from Okinawa who migrated to Peru in the 19th century.

Many of the Japanese-Americans in Hawaii are descended from people from Okinawa, and there is also a substantial colony of Japanese-Peruvians in Peru descended from Okinawa people.  Some of those in Peru might have emigrated to Hawaii and brought their recipes with them.

This dish uses Beef Hearts, which can be bought from a full-scale butcher and have an  unusually steak-like flavor.

This dish goes well with picnics and outdoor parties and barbecues.It would go well at an outdoor meal with Baked Bananas and Potted Pork Chops, for instance.

To make it we begin by collecting the ingredients.

Meat Sticks

Hawaiian – Fusion


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Beef Heart cut into long, thin strips
2 cups Beer or Wine for marinade
1/8 pound Butter (half a stick)
1 large clove Garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon Cumin
½ teaspoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
Black Pepper to taste
2½ teaspoons Hot Pepper Sauce, such as Tabasco
½ cup Vinegar


Begin by combining all the ingredients except the Beef Heart, and cook them together for a few minutes until they are well blended.

Cool the marinade and when cool marinate the Beef Heart slices for 3 to 4 hours or as long as overnight, covered, in the refrigerator

When it is time to cook them, thread the strips on bamboo skewers and grill them over charcoal or in the broiler section of the oven.

Note on Ingredients: This is an old, traditional recipe, and like many older Indonesian Sate recipes, calls for Butter.  Some cooks may prefer to substitute Margarine for Butter for health reasons  Or you may want to completely replace the Butter or Margarine with an equivalent amount of Vegetable Oil.

Capt. James Cook's ship off Hawaii, 1778

Capt. James Cook – Hawaii 1778


3 thoughts on “Anticuchos

  1. Pingback: Hawaiian cuisine | Pacific Rim Gourmet

  2. Pingback: How to make Baked Bananas Hawaiian Style for picnics | Pacific Rim Gourmet

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