Chicken Satay and Spicy Peanut Sauce

Satay, a dish of grilled slices of meat or chicken on bamboo skewers, is a popular hawker-style snack (or a meal by itself) back home. Satay is traditionally served with a spicy peanut sauce, with accompaniments such as slices of cucumber, shallots, and cubed ketupat. This recipe is adapted from a satay recipe found in one of my mom’s old Female Cookbooks. The satay tasted just like I remember it.

Chicken Satay
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
8 shallots, 4 ounces trimmed
2 inches ginger, 3/4 ounce trimmed
4 cloves garlic, 1/2 ounce trimmed
1 lemon grass, 1/2 ounce trimmed
7 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons coriander powder
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon fennel powder
3/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Cut the chicken on the diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick slices (to make the job easier, freeze the chicken for 30 minutes).
  2. Place shallots, ginger, garlic, and lemon grass in the work bowl of a food processor; process until smooth. Combine all the ingredients together (aromatics, spices, and chicken) in a bowl or a Ziploc bag. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Adjust an oven rack 6 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler. Line a sheet pan with foil (I used the Reynolds Wrap Non-Stick Aluminium Foil).
  4. Weave the chicken slices back and forth onto the bamboo skewers, lay the skewers on the sheet pan, and cover the skewer ends with a narrow strip of foil to prevent burning (shown in one of the pictures above).
  5. Broil until fully cooked, about 8 minutes, flipping the skewers over halfway through. Serve with the spicy peanut sauce, and your choice of accompaniments (I prefer slices of english cucumber and jicama).

Note: This technique of broiling satay comes from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. The book specifies the use of a broiler-pan (lining the bottom with foil and laying the skewers on the broiler-pan top). I don’t have any broiler-pan so I just used a sheet pan instead. Also, the broiling time varies depending on how far exactly the rack is from the broiler element and how hot your broiler element is. I adjusted my oven rack to the middle position (which I believe is more than 6 inches from the broiler element). It took me longer than 8 minutes to cook the satay. This recipe requires the use of thirty 6-inch-long wooden skewers. I ended up using approximately fifty skewers probably due to slicing the chicken thinner than 1/4-inch.

Spicy Peanut Sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups lightly salted peanuts (I use dry roasted or sometimes cocktail)
10 shallots, 5 ounces trimmed
3 cloves garlic, 3/8 ounce trimmed
1 lemon grass, 1/2 ounce trimmed, crushed
8 tablespoons Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon fennel powder
9 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 cups water

  1. Place peanuts in the bowl of a food processor; process until fine but not smooth (resembles the texture of granulated sugar or coarser). Remove to a bowl.
  2. Place shallots and garlic in the bowl of a food processor; process until smooth.
  3. In a large, heavy-based saucepan, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Fry ground ingredients with crushed lemon grass, chili sauce, and spices until fragrant.
  4. Add sugar and water. Simmer for about 35 minutes until sauce is thick and oil has separated from the mixture. Serve warm.
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One Reply to “Chicken Satay and Spicy Peanut Sauce”

  1. Back home in malaysia, you normally grill the satay over charcoal (or you can barbecue them with friends over for fun). Bruise the end of a lemongrass and baste it in oil now and then over the satay till it’s ready…mom

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