How Malaysia Airlines makes its amazing business class satay

Every day the Asian carrier cooks up 26,000 satay sticks and 200 litres of peanut sauce.

By David Flynn, March 6 2023
How Malaysia Airlines makes its amazing business class satay

Delicious satay sticks served in business and first class are a signature dish of Malaysia Airlines, with many passengers requesting a second helping.

And why not? These satay starters may be just a prelude to the main course, but that doesn’t detract from their authentically morish nature.

Executive Traveller went behind the scenes at Malaysia Airline’s catering facility, on the edge of Kuala Lumpur International Airport, to see how these inflight delights make their way from kitchen to cabin.

Satay is among around 30,000 meals prepared each day, with as many as 26,000 individual satay sticks alongside 200 litres of that rich peanut sauce. (Even the satay served on flights to Kuala Lumpur is prepared in this kitchen.)

Malaysia Airlines’ satay sticks use cuts of beef and chicken tenderloin which have been marinated in a tasty mix of shallots, turmeric (which gives the dish its characteristic yellow colour), garlic, lemongrass and galangal.

The chunks are threaded by hand onto wooden skewers, and then cooked using the traditional method on an open charcoal grill.

Just as you’d see at any hawker market satay stall, staff continually fan the flames to keep a consistent heat.

Close by, the largest vat of peanut sauce you’ve ever seen is simmering away.

When the satay sticks are fully cooked to 60°C, they’re quickly moved to a refrigeration unit where the temperature is rapidly dropped to below 5°C to seal in the flavour.

But they don't stay in the chiller rooms for long – within 12 hours they're loaded onto a Malaysia Airlines flight and served up to eager travellers with generous dollops of that peanut sauce.

Also read: Malaysia Airlines A330 business class review


22 Oct 2012

Total posts 319

David, what a treat to go behind the scenes to see who they make those famous satays.  I hope that you were able to sample some at the end of your tour.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1209

We need a formal taste test to see who does satays better, MH or SQ?  Both have them as signature parts of their Business Class products.  SQ is acknowledged as having the better Business Class product but does it have the better satays?

On the ground and in the air, my vote for best satay always goes to Malaysia. If you think Singapore satay is great, visit a good satay place in KL and you'll find it's at least twice as good as Singaporean satay and also well under half the price too.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 520

Thai satay is also equally good and as popular as it is in Malaysia. 

15 Mar 2018

Total posts 93

MH gets my vote.

06 Mar 2023

Total posts 1

I used to have the satay as my main course. I wonder if we could get them to hand over the sauce recipe?  Not likely I imagine.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 3

Never seen it on Singapore. Just flew Sydney Bangkok business class, 4 flights not a skewer in sight. In fact food overall was poor. Disappointing for Singapore

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Apr 2015

Total posts 8

In response to AsiaBizTraveller's comments, I agree that there are excellent satay stalls all over Malaysia, and much cheaper that Singapore due to the currency exchange rates. If you ever spend time in KL, do venture out to Willie Satay at Kajang - absolutely awesome. Ayam (chicken) satays are only RM 1 each, so have three, which is approx AU$ 1. Can't beat the taste or the value...

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 520

Not only in KL, but you can find the same in Thailand. Satay is very popular and sold everywhere. One skewer costs about the same as it does in Malaysia, if you buy it on the street. 

25 Jun 2018

Total posts 45

A few years ago we flew MH from KL into Sydney.  We were offered satay sticks as a before lunch starter & after lunch as a ‘top up’.  Before dinner - same again.  I spoke to a FA about the product and she brought me a hand written note with the recipe for the marinade & the sauce, together with a list of favourite places in KL to try them ‘on your next visit’.   Service +++ with many smiles.  Looking forward to September when we are flying MH again.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

09 Jun 2019

Total posts 11

J-class fares on MH tend to be a little higher than competitors. Maybe the satay sticks explain the difference?

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Jan 2020

Total posts 3

Travelling business KL to ADL in business allowed me to gorge on the satay sticks. Only one word....WOW

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