One of the great culinary specialties of Indonesia is sate (pronounced subtas), charcoal-broiled meat on small showers. In that vast country, comprising 3,000 islands, methods of preparing and seasoning sates differ from place to place according to availability of local foods, religious practices and seasoning traditions.

Basically, a sate consists of marinated small pieces of meat that are skewered and grilled over charcoal in low braziers and dipped in a piquant sauce before eating. Every town seems to have a favorite method of treating the meat before cooking.

The origin is uncertain. Some Indonesians say sate came from Jave centuries ago. Others claim it arrived in Southeast Asia with the adoption of the Islam religion. The Chinese, however, maintain that the art of roasting bits of pork and game, skewered on bamboo sticks, begam with them. Because only three places of meat were placed on each stick, sate, they say, derived from the words sah (three) and tay (pieces).

To make sate cut the meat in 1/2-inch to 1-inch cubes. The marinade is a tanderizer as well as a seasoning. Marinate meats at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, even overnight, in the refrigerator. Bring them to room temperature before cooking.

Any grill can be used for cooking the sate but a small hibachi is excellent. While cooking, rotate occasionally, so the meat is evenly cooked.

The following recipes are intended to be served as main courses with rice and a vegetable or salad. But the same recipes can be used for snacks or appetizers, with fewer cubes on on each skewer to serce a larger number of persons. BEEF SATE (6 servings) 2 pounds sirloin or round steak, cut in 3/4-inch cubes 3 to 4 tablespoons soy sauce 3 tablespoons brown sugar 2garlic cloves, crushed or minced 3 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice Black pepper, ground red pepper to taste Coconut milk (recipe follows)

Combine ingredients in a large bowl and allow meat to marinate at least 1 hour, perferably longer. Thread on skewers, about 10 inches long. Grill over hot coals or under a hot broiler, turning two or three times, for about 10 minutes or until meat is of desired doneness. Baste with marinade before and during cooking. Serve on skewers with soy sauce (recipe follows). COCONUT MILK

Soak 1/2 cup shredded fresh or canned unsweetened coconut in 1/2 cup hot milk 30 minutes. Drain off liquid to use as milk. SOY SAUCE

Combine 1/2 cup soy sauce 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice, 3 tablespoons grated onion, 3 tablespoons brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper or chilis. Heat and serve warm in small bowls. PORK SATE (6 servings) 2 pounds fresh pork, leg or shoulder, cut into 3/4-inch cubes 1 small onion, peeled and minced 2 garlic cloves, crushed or minced 2 tablespoons brown sugar 1/3 cup soy sauce 2 tablespoons peanut oil 3 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice 2 teaspoons ground coriander 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon anchovy paste Pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a large bowl and marinate pork at least 1 hour. Thread on skewers, about 10-inches long.Grill over hot coals or under a hot broiler, turning 2 or 3 times, for about 12 minutes, or until pork is thoroughly cooked. Serve on skewers with soy sauce (recipe above). SATE AYAM (6 to 8 servings) 3 whole chicken breasts or 6 halves 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 1 tablespoon turmeric powder 1/4 cup soy sauce 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin Pepper to taste

Skin and bone chicken breasts. Cut meat into 1-inch cubes. Combine remaining ingredients and, with a pastry brush, paint onto chicken cubes. Leave in a large bowl at least 30 minutes. Thread on skewers about 10 inches long. Grill over hot coals or under a hot broiler, turning once or twice, for about 7 minutes, or until done. Serve with peanut sauce (receipe follows). PEANUT SAUCE 1 tablespoon peanut oil 1 garlic clove, crushed 3 tablespoons minced onion 1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter 1/4 cup chicken broth or water 1/2 cup coconut milk or milk 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 2 teaspoons soy sauce 1/3 teaspoon ground red pepper or cayenne to taste Black pepper to taste

Heat oil in a small saucepan; add garlic and onion and saute until tender. Add remaining ingredients and cook slowly, stirring, until mixture thickens. Keep warm or reheat. Serve warm.