Super Easy Chicken Satay
Updated: Jun 11
I have yet to meet anyone (without a peanut allergy) who doesn't love this recipe. It takes 10 minutes to prep, 20 minutes to cook and can be adapted from super mild and fruity, right up to "steam coming out of your ears" hot.. Also, it is a scientifically proven fact that food on a stick tastes better (well maybe not exactly scientifically proven, but stick food is really rather good)
Satay (Or Sate as it is correctly spelled) is the national dish of Indonesia but you would be forgiven for thinking it's a Thai, Chinese or even Indian dish. It is such a great tasting combination of flavours that most eastern and southern countries have a version of it ranging from Yakitori in Japan, to Shish Kebab in Turkey to Sosatie in South Africa. Probably the most recognisable version is the chicken kebabs served on a stick and grilled on the fire with that sometimes sweet and often spicy but always supper peanutty (not a word) Satay sauce.
This version is super easy to make and mimics the more traditional Thai / Indonesian / Malay version and is adapted from a sauce my mom used to make when my dad was barbecuing on holidays. It was always a hit and even became a pasta sauce in our house for an easy mid-week meal. It goes great with pretty much any barbecued meat or fish and in particular and my personal favourite, with a well barbecued pork sausage! However for the purposes of this recipe we'll be going with the traditional chicken skewers. I'm doing the barbecue version but this will work just as well with a griddle pan or indeed any kind of cooked chicken. I also like doing a whole boneless chicken in the oven and then just slicing it and pouring the sauce on top.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
4 Chicken Breasts
12 Skewers (Put them in a bowl of water now so they don't burn when you cook them)
1 Can of Coconut Milk
1 Can of pureed tomatoes (not tomato paste that is something different but does get called tomato puree) if in doubt, go with a can of chopped tomatoes.
1 small tub of peanut butter (I recommend Crunchy for an extra texture but smooth will work just as well if you're one of those people!)
1 cup of chicken stock (a stock cube and hot water will be fine if you don't have or can't get real chicken stock. Use a vegetable or beef cube if you're stuck and in an emergency, just use water and have a good word with yourself and whoever does the grocery shopping)
2 Garlic cloves chopped/crushed or if you buy the ready made stuff, 1./2 a teaspoon
1 chopped chilli - 1/2 a teaspoon again if you buy the ready made
1 thumb-size piece of ginger finely chopped or again 1/2 a teaspoon of the ready made. stuff
1/2 stick of Lemongrass very finely sliced (lemongrass doesn't break down so it needs to be fine) also 1/2 a teaspoon full if you're buying ready prepped.
1 large onion rough chopped
1 large bell pepper / capsicum rough chopped
1/2 Teaspoon of cumin
1/2 teaspoon of smoked Paprika
1 heaped Teaspoon of Garam Masala (any Curry Powder will also do)
Thai 7 spice powder (buy the stuff in the shaker bottle if you can). If you can't get it, just pick your favourite chicken spice powder/rub
Oil for frying
1 bunch of fresh coriander
For The Satay Sauce
Fry the onion and peppers in a little oil in the bottom of a large saucepan at medium heat and add each of the following whilst frying: garlic, chilli, ginger lemon grass, cumin, garam masala
Fry until the onion and pepper is cooked through and the spices have all cooked out a little.
Once everything is cooked and starting to brown and smelling amazing, pour in the coconut milk and 2 minutes later, the tomatoes. Stir well to bring everything together and continue to heat.
Bring the mixture up to a simmer, stirring occasionally (shouldn't take more than a few minutes) and add the paprika. Stir in well..
With a table or dessert spoon, put 2 large dollops of peanut butter into the mixture and stir for a couple of minutes until completely melted and mixed in.
Check the consistency (remembering it will thicken slightly as it cools), if it's still watery, add another dollop of peanut butter and repeat until you get to the thickness equivalent to a cheese sauce / bechamel / custard. It should heavily coat the back of a spoon but still pour off.
Once you have a consistency you like, taste the mixture to be sure it has a good strong taste of peanut, if not, add another dollop of Peanut Butter and thin down with a splash of the chicken stock to keep your consistency.
Repeat this process until you have the right consistency and a good string peanut flavour, keep tasting
Once you have something that works, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to your preference.
Taste again and check for heat, if it's not spicy enough, add a little more chilli or cayenne pepper and taste - Be careful here, too much and you'll kill the dish. Also, consider your guests, do they all like it spicy, you can always take a bowl off and heat that up or take a bowl off mild and spice up the rest.
Add the remaining chicken stock, put a lid on the pan and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes on a low heat to bring out the flavour of the spices
Voila! sauce complete, turn off the heat, leave in the pan with the lid on until you're ready to start barbecuing
For The Chicken
Slice each chicken breasts into three long strips down the length of the breast (Goujons) and thread onto your now soaked skewers.
Place your 12 skewers onto a baking sheet and brush a little oil on them
Season liberally with salt and pepper and sprinkle over Thai 7 spice
Cover and place in the fridge until you're ready to barbecue
Light the fire, I recommend strongly you use charcoal for this dish but wood or gas will also work
Take your chicken out of the fridge (still covered) about 15 minutes before your fire is ready to come up a little in temperature
But your sauce on a low heat now so it will be hot when you finsih barbecuing
Pour yourself a glass of wine or open an ice cold beer and take the chicken to the barbecue
Cook the chicken slowly over hot coals, turning frequently & remember that chicken breast is a dry meat when overcooked but can kill you when under cooked so pay attention and try and cook it to perfection. I can't help you any more than that with the barbecue, if you can't cook chicken skewers, you need to barbecue a lot more
When cooked, transfer them to a clean plate (not back on the baking sheet) and leave to rest whilst you chop the coriander.
Spoon your sauce into a serving bowl and sprinkle the coriander on top. squeeze half the lime onto the sauce.
Give your chicken the juice from the other half of the lime and a small sprinkle of salt and a good grind of black pepper.
Serve the kebabs to your guests and let them spoon on their own sauce.
Tips & Tricks
If you're making this as a midweek meal and not barbecuing, brown the chicken in the saucepan right at the start and build the sauce with the chicken in the pot to make a nice Thai chicken curry/stew
It can also be made more as a curry in the same way, just add more of the Garam Masala / Curry powder
If you have the time, marinade your chicken in yogurt or butter milk with the Thai 7 Spice, salt pepper and a teaspoon of Gram Masala first. for 2-4 hours. It will be more succulent when cooked.
This dish should get a little sweetness from the onion and the peanut butter so should be noticeably a little sweet. If you're not getting that, add a teaspoon of sugar or even a squirt of sweet chilli sauce to deepen the flavour profile a little.
You can use the sauce as a fantastic dipping sauce just by blending once cooked to take out the lumps from the pepper, onion and lemongrass.
It's not for everyone, but I really like this as a pasta sauce and often save a little when I make it for chicken to have the next day on some pasta. give it a try, you might love it.
The meat in this dish is agnostic and largely unimportant, you could just as easily swap out chicken, for pork, beef or Prawn, FIsh or Tofu or add some chunky root veg for a great Thai veg curry.
For a more substantial main course, I recommend stir fried-noodles or fired rice, it's a big flavour so can pretty much go with any starch. I may or may not even admit to having it over chips after a good night on the pop.
Either way, just cook it, it's a winner and experiment to make it your own.
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