The mere mention of the words “Chicken Satay” to someone who has travelled 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 on an incredible taste experience. It is invariably at its best as a street food rather than in a restaurant. Frequently, the Satay vendor’s stall may be providing the income for a whole family, and there is fierce competition for customers from other street food vendor’s. 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!
Chicken Marinade Ingredients.
This will make sufficient marinade for 2kg (4.4 lbs) of chicken. Thighs or breast is up to you but 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
Satay Sauce Ingredients.
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. 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.
Preparing the chicken.
Slice chicken into sections of approximately 1 inch
Cut carefully through a section of chicken, lifting the flap as you go
Lay the chicken out as above and cut again
You should now have a piece of chicken similar to the one above.
Above shows the chicken is threaded onto the bamboo skewer. NOTE, the above picture is there just to show the technique more clearly, it is better to marinate the chicken first and then skewer as above. 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 above, 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, the 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.
Add the peanuts and over a 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 as 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 plays 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 sweetness of coconut milk also varies The sauce needs to be somewhere between thick and thin :-)
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 chargrilled and make sure it is cooked through with no pinkness.
Thai red chicken curry with butternut squash is a classic and a great favourite of mine. The colouring effect of the squash results in a curry that is orange rather than red; however it is still very definitely a Thai red curry. And if that sounds confusing, what you have to know is that in Thai when we refer to a red or green curry we are talking about the colour of the chilies we use to make the curry paste, not the colour of the finished curry. You can chop and change the ratio of chicken to squash in the recipe as you wish, or even omit the chicken altogether if you prefer.
Red curry paste is the most versatile of all the Thai pastes, you can use it to make Thai fishcakes, in stir fries or marinades, in almost any dish where you want to add that Thai taste. For me though this is where it comes into its own, with duck or any game bird it makes for a magical dish. We had goose this Christmas and the leftover meat ended up in a red curry that disappeared all too soon ! I’m not normally a fan of pineapple in savoury dishes, (put it on my pizza at your own risk) but it really does work with this dish, a classic combination.
This is a classic Thai dish, combining as it does the salty, sweet, sour, and spicy tastes that define Southeast Asian cooking. In Thai it is known as Laab Gai. I find that if I ask people who have spent extended periods in Thailand, particularly in the north or north-east, that they will often name this as their favourite dish. It’s certainly a spicy dish, and yet manages to be refreshing at the same time, it makes a great appetiser and even the non-heat lovers will be tempted to try a spoonful and will find there is a lot going on here apart from the heat!
I have had a few of this brand of sauces and ingredients and all have been authentic and tasty.
I personally found this to be a little too hot for my pallet but used sparingly as a marinade it worked really well. The dipping sauce was far too hot so I only used it as a marinade but especially with barbecue season coming up I would certainly recommend giving it a try.