Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I think this satay would make my Malaysia-born mom proud.  I love ordering it in restaurants, dipping the perfectly grilled strips of meat into a peanut sauce.  The recipe calls for chicken, but my red meat-lover self used beef; both are common.  The sauce takes some time to put together but is great and complex, not like those flat, sugary peanut sauces you find in chain restaurants.

Some of the ingredients, like tamarind, were unusual for me, but don't let that put you off.  Despite my heritage I don't cook a lot of Malaysian, Singaporean, or Chinese food, since I learned to cook on my own rather than from my mom.  But I've been picking up a dish here and there, and getting less intimidated with each one.

Satay on grill
One other minor note: some of the recipe instructions tell you to process ingredients to a smooth paste, but don't knock yourself out.  Ginger and lemongrass are very fibrous, so my spice paste was a bit chunky and stringy.  In the end, though, it all smells great on the grill.

Malaysian Satay Ayam dan Kuah Kacang
(Barbecued Chicken and Spicy Peanut Sauce)
By Susheela Raghavan, author of "Flavors of Malaysia" via Malaysia Kitchen

1 to 2 tablespoons thinly sliced or chopped palm sugar (gula Melaka or gula Jawa) or dark brown sugar (or use light brown sugar for a lighter color)
½ to ¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rice vinegar or distilled white vinegar
1½ pounds boneless chicken breasts, thinly sliced into 2- to 3-inch lengths
Optional: 1 lemongrass stalk, bruised with the back of a knife, to be used as a brush for basting
¼ to ½ cup cooking oil for basting

Satay Marinade:
2 to 3 teaspoons sliced garlic cloves
½ teaspoon sliced fresh ginger
¾ cup chopped shallots or onions
1 lemongrass stalk, sliced (about ¼ cup)
¼ cup water

Spice Blend:
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground fennel seeds
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ to ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon ground chile powder

Sliced shallot or onion rings
Sliced cucumbers

Process Marinade ingredients to a smooth paste. Combine Spice Blend ingredients. Add Spice Blend, sugar, salt, and vinegar to the marinade and mix well.

Rub chicken with the spice paste to coat. Marinate for a minimum of 2 to 4 hours but preferably overnight in the refrigerator.

Skewer marinated chicken (if using wooden skewers, soak them first in warm water for about 20 to 30 minutes to soften).

Grill chicken (preferably over charcoal fire), basting occasionally with lemongrass brush or regular basting brush dipped in the oil or oil-sugar mixture.

Serve with Peanut Sauce.

Malaysian Kuah Kacang (Peanut Sauce)
By Susheela Raghavan, author of "Flavors of Malaysia" via Malaysia Kitchen

2 to 3 tablespoons cooking oil
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate or tamarind juice extracted from pulp
About ¼ cup packed thinly sliced or chopped palm sugar (gula Melaka or gula Jawa) or brown sugar
1 to 1¼ teaspoons salt
1 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, finely ground, or ½ cup crunchy or smooth peanut butter (preferably crunchy)
¾ to 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk if roasted peanuts are used, or ¼ cup if peanut butter is used
1¼ to 1½ cups water

Spice Paste:
2 teaspoons chopped garlic cloves
¼ cup chopped shallots or onions
1 teaspoon chopped fresh or frozen and thawed galangal or fresh ginger
1 to 3 dried chilies, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes, slit and deseeded; or ½ to 1 teaspoon cili boh; or ¼ to ½ teaspoon bottled sambal oelek; or ¼ to ½ teaspoon chile powder (depending on heat desired)
¼ cup sliced lemongrass stalk
Optional: 1 teaspoon dried shrimp paste (belacan), toasted at 400°F for 15 minutes
¼ cup water

Makes about 1½ cups sauce

Process Spice Paste ingredients to a smooth paste.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet or wok and sauté Spice Paste for 1 to 2 minutes, then add coriander, cumin, and turmeric and an additional 1 tablespoon of oil and sauté for another 4 to 6 minutes till fragrant, adding more oil if necessary.

Add tamarind juice, sugar, and salt and sauté for another 1 to 2 minutes.

Add peanuts or peanut butter, coconut milk, and water and stir continuously till oil seeps out from sauce, about 15 to 20 minutes.


  1. Who doesn't love meat on a stick! The flavors sounds incredible--I'll have to try this one!

  2. I am sure your mom would be proud! Those spice blends sound amazing too...I'm a big fan of tumeric myself.

  3. That looks delicious, love the flavors.

  4. your satay looks delicious! I bet is smelled like heaven on the grill, with all those wonderful flavors you combined!

  5. This looks so good! I'm always unimpressed by the three sticks you get when you order satay out. Now, I can use your recipe to make myself ten sticks at home :)

  6. I loveee meat! My Aunt is from Malaysia I think a visit is in order!


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