A while back I tried satay sticks at a Asian funk fusion bistro in Abu Dhabi and I was blown away. I never thought peanuts and chicken could go so well together. I am not the kind of person who likes to replicate everything they eat at a restaurant because then I’d very quickly run out of reasons to eat out but it just so happens… I got a really cool cookbook as a present from Mr. Mazhar and it had a fairly easy recipe for satay skewers so I thought I’d give it a try. I say fairly easy only because most of the ingredients used in this dish are not part of any Pakistani pantry. So you do have to go out and get them and then use them in the same recipe or find another one for them so as not to let the ingredients spoil and go to waste. I will say this that I used up all my special ingredients in this very recipe as I made it thrice already. My family and friends throughly enjoy it. So don’t be afraid to invest a bit in these ingredients.
Satay chicken is a beautiful blend of earthy peanut butter with silky coconut milk. I added a bit of heat to the mix as most people in my family like it hot! It was also a wonderful surprise to me that fish sauce once mixed up and cooked out doesn’t taste bad after all. I was highly suspicious of using it simply because it’s not a flavour we are acquainted with and I really thought it would leave a bad smell and taste in the food. Happy to report no such thing happened. A great thing about this dish is that you make one marinade and use it two ways – to marinade the chicken and then cook the leftover down to make the sauce. Which if you heard Mazhar rave about you would know – “the sauce is the heart of this dish. It is what makes the dish complete”.
I’m still pretty much an amateur cook but I find that most recipes involving chicken suggest a 30 minutes marinade time. This might be to appeal to the quick-fix supper preparers and I guess it can be taken as a suggested minimum marinade time. However in most cases I marinade chicken overnight. In my humble opinion this simple trick heightens the flavour profile of the meal to the next level :p Just trying out some of the mumbo jumbo I listen to on food channels and cooking shows. To put it in simple terms: Chicken tastes good!
The recipe calls for boneless chicken to be cut into small cubes that can be easily pierced with a wooden skewer. I decided to be adventurous and cut them into strips and weaved them onto the skewer. Presentation wise it looked pretty but during the cooking process the chicken strips contracted around the skewers and stuck to them so prying them off was a bit of an issue. So, you win some, you lose some 🙂 lesson learnt cut the chicken into chunks.
Satay Chicken Skewers
- 2/3 cup canned coconut milk / cream
- 1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- Hot sauce, to taste
- Crushed red chillies, to taste
- 1kg boneless chicken, cut into small cubes
- 12-15 wooden skewers, soaked in water for 20 minutes
- Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl and mix well. The peanut butter needs some work since its chunky. I have mentioned the hot sauce and crushed red chillies to be added to your and your family’s liking. Hot or not, up to you 🙂
- Cut the chicken into equally sized cubes and thread 3-4 pieces per skewer depending on its size. You want to leave some space between the chicken cubes so that the heat gets to each piece during cooking.
- Brush 1/2 cup of the satay sauce over the chicken and let marinade for at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight.
- Allow the skewers to come to room temperature before starting the cooking process. If you have a grill or barbecue, cook the skewers on heated oiled barbecue until cooked as desired. I heated up a non stick frying pan, but you could also use a griddle. Heat a small amount of oil and lay the skewers in the pan. Cover the pan with a lid for 2-3 minutes after which turn over the skewers onto the other side. Cover again and cook for another 3 minutes. Then take off the lid and fry the skewers till you get a nice charring on the edges of the meat and cooked through.
- Bring the remaining satay sauce to the boil in a small saucepan, and then let simmer till it thickens slightly. Drizzle over the cooked skewers and enjoy!