The mere mention of the words “Chicken Satay” to someone who has traveled in Southeast Asia is enough to bring that far away look into their eyes, and for good reason. There has to be something special about a dish that can be found throughout the countries of the region, taking on national and local culinary characteristics on its travels and so often delivering an incredible taste experience. It is invariably at its best as street food rather than in a restaurant. Frequently, the Satay vendor’s stall may be providing income for a whole family, and there is fierce competition for customers from other street food vendors. If you want to stay in business then your Satay has to be good, very good. The marinades and peanut sauce are always prepared by hand and closely guarded recipes are the norm in this business rather than the exception!
For all the above reasons the chances of you being able to eat Satay of this quality in a restaurant in Southeast Asia, as opposed to a food stall, are small indeed. In the West, this is a dish I would never order in a restaurant and when I’ve sampled it if a friend has ordered it, I invariably want to hang my head and cry.
Fortunately, I am rarely without a supply of chicken satay! It is something that I prepare in large quantities, cook, and freeze as it keeps wonderfully and is very easy to warm up in an oven when defrosted. It can also be cooked straight from the freezer in a microwave. The Satay sauce can also be frozen in portions to be used when needed. The following recipe makes a large amount and I think is the easiest way to do it, but by all means, reduce the quantities to make a smaller amount if you wish.
I love to make this for a barbecue as it is at its best when grilled over charcoal, if you want to do likewise then please make sure you make enough, believe me, it will simply vanish!
This will make sufficient marinade for 2kg (4.4 lbs) of chicken. Thighs or breast is up to you but the breast is easier to cut and skewer.
Coconut Milk 1 can ( Important information on Coconut Milk)
Evaporated Milk 1 small can
Garlic 10 cloves
Lemongrass 2 sticks
Coriander (Cilantro US) small bunch 30g or 1oz.
Sugar 20g or 1.5 tablespoons
Ground Coriander 5g or 1 tsp
Ground Cumin 5g or 1 tsp
Mild Curry Powder 5g or 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder 5g or 1 tsp
Salt 10g or 2 tsp
Sunflower or Vegetable Oil 30g/1oz/1.5 tablespoons
This will make sufficient dipping sauce for the 2kg of chicken used above so adjust accordingly if using a different amount, but bear in mind it freezes easily so it’s worth making the larger quantity.
Thai Yellow Curry Paste 1 Pouch
Panang Curry Paste 1 Pouch
Coconut Milk 2 Cans
Roasted Peanuts 300g or 10oz
Limes 2 small or 1 medium lime.
100 ml vegetable oil.
The 20g or 1 tbs of sugar I forgot to put in the above picture 🙂
Making the marinade.
Peel & chop the lemongrass and garlic cloves or whizz in a mini food processor if you have one. Add the mixture and the rest of the marinade ingredients to a blender with just enough coconut milk to enable it to blend smoothly at first, then add the rest of the coconut milk.
You should now have a piece of chicken similar to the one below.
This shows the chicken threaded onto the bamboo skewer. NOTE, the picture is there just to show the technique more clearly, it is better to marinate the chicken first and then skewer it as below.
Marinade the chicken in the sauce for at least a couple of hours or overnight in the fridge. Soak the bamboo skewers in water to prevent burning.
Chop or grind peanuts as below, a mini food processor is ideal for this. Don’t over-process as we are not looking for peanut powder!
Put 100ml of vegetable oil, half a can of Coconut milk, the Yellow paste, and Panang paste into a saucepan and bring just to the boil on a low to medium heat, simmer gently for 5 minutes. You can now add the rest of the coconut milk unless you feel the sauce is quite watery. I don’t want to be vague here but the thickness of the coconut milk depends on the brand.
Add the chopped peanuts and over low heat, keep stirring until you see red oil floating to the top. Keep a constant watch on it so it does not burn. If you are using the quantities above then you will need to add around 200 ml of water to bring the sauce to the right consistency. The brand and thickness of the coconut milk also play a part here. The sauce needs to be somewhere between thick and thin 🙂 Add the juice from the squeezed limes and stir. Satay sauce should a little sweet so check the taste and add the sugar if needed as the sweetness of coconut milk also varies.
Thread the marinated chicken onto the skewers and you’re good to go!
The satay can be barbecued, grilled, or cooked on a griddle pan so cooking time will depend on the method you use. It’s best when it looks a little char-grilled and make sure it is cooked through with no pinkness.