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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Malaysian Chicken Satay

Continuing from the previous post on the Satay Peanut Dipping Sauce, here comes the chicken satay! Easily any Malaysian's favorite, this is by far hubby's big time favorite. He would crave for these skewers once in a blue moon, but it has never crossed my mind to actually make my own batch of chicken satay at home. Back then I didn't have what I needed in the kitchen - I haven't got a set of mortar and pestle; and I haven't got a good spice blender either. So anything with spice was basically out of the question in my culinary world. So much so that I have never bothered keeping that many different types of spices at home.

the extensive ingredients in picture

That aside, looking at all the many different recipes available online made it all worse - they just put me off even further. Unlike plenty other Malaysian food that I so love and adore, making this chicken satay uses a lot more spices than any others. There are the dry and pre-packaged ones that you can still get (with some luck and a little time looking for them) from either the Chinese grocery stores or the Indian grocery stores; but the list also includes a number of other fresh spices that took me a real long while before I finally got to seeing them in one of the Vietnamese grocery stores. So, it is indeed one with quite a lot of preparation, before the cooking even comes into the picture.

But of course, those were just me and some of my personal problems (or excuses lol). A close friend, Siew Gee (the very same friend who makes awesome Chicken Rendang) - she makes superb chicken satay! And the best part of it - she does it even without necessarily having all the ingredients needed in hand. She's one who is perfectly comfortable and competent in having those in the recipe easily and readily substituted wherever and whenever she deems fit. And as much as I would love having her special recipe for this chicken satay, she works the way most professional cooks work - there's never a written recipe in black and white; she goes by experience.

You will love her chicken satay if you have tried it!

The idea of going against my own norm and finally giving this spice-laden a thought came as I was getting hubby's birthday plan laid out. Having not had them for quite sometime, I thought it should fit pretty well into the picture. Provided it turned out good, that is.

Getting all the ingredients ready was not too much a problem now that I have got them figured out as to where they are each available in which different places. But just like the Satay Peanut Dipping Sauce, it was not having a ready-for-use recipe in hand that really had somewhat made it rather complicated for me.

This is a recipe that I first stumbled upon in a blog by Selera4U. The post came with a link (which sadly no longer works) to another source. Searching online, it traced down to a recipe originated from the one by NoorMasri. A search for this recipe of hers revealed that it has been used and featured by many other bloggers everywhere ever since it came about online back in 2006. Not exactly sure if she keeps all these brilliant recipes of hers anywhere online that I should have credited instead but this probably is the best that I can do on my part having adapted hers and made my own.

Commonly served with cucumber, onion wedges and nasi impit, this is easily almost a Malaysian pride. Not exactly a breeze with its making I would say, it involves a rather long preparation time in fact - from getting the marinade ready, getting chicken marinated overnight preferably, skewing them the next day all the way to getting them grilled - indoor or out. But this first try of mine turned out great. All the effort paid off - the birthday man had a real great time polishing off one skewer after another. And a happy hubby with a happy tummy makes a happy wife lol!

And the good news (at least to hubby) is that there'll definitely be a next time having done this once (which hopefully will be a lot less chaotic then). But I will probably make sure that the next time will be done in a weather well enough for outdoor grilling instead of getting them done indoor. Because honestly, nothing quite beats a batch of chicken satay with some real smoky flavors as they get basted in oil steeped with crushed lemongrass and then grilled to perfection.

Malaysian Chicken Satay 
Adapted from Selera4U
Original source: NoorMasri
Makes about 30 jumbo skewers
2.2lbs skinless, boneless chicken thigh
1¼ tsps salt
2 tbsps palm sugar, shaved
2 tbsps honey
2 tbsps cooking oil
30 bamboo skewers
2 stalks lemongrass (ends lightly trimmed and crushed) in ~1/4 cup of oil for basting

Spice paste
10 shallots, peeled
4 cloves garlic, peeled and hard ends trimmed
3 candlenuts
2 stalks lemongrass (about 4" of just the tender white parts), briefly chopped to ease blending
1" fresh turmeric, peeled
1/2" ginger, peeled and sliced
1/2" galangal, peeled and sliced
1½ tsps fennel
1½ tsps cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander

Sides (optional)
1-2 English cucumber, cut into bite-size chunks
1 large red onion (or Spanish onion), cut into bite-size wedges
nasi impit

1. Trim the chicken off any excess fat. Cut then into strips of about 1" in width. Set aside.

2. Blend together the ingredients for the spice paste until smooth. Set aside.

3. Add in salt, palm sugar and honey into the bowl of spice paste. Mix well. Finish by adding in the cooking oil. Stir to get everything well incorporated. This makes the chicken marinade.

4. In a large mixing bowl, bring in the chicken strips. Add in the chicken marinade next. Mix everything well.
5. Transfer everything into a large zip lock bag and let marinate for as long as possible in the refrigerator, preferably overnight. Flip the bag once midway through the marination process.

6. Soak the bamboo skewers for about 2 hours the next day prior to use to prevent burning. Thread the chicken strips neatly onto the bamboo skewers. Be sure not to overpack them or they'll need quite some time on the grill later.
7. Grill the skewers outdoor - baste them with the oil steeped with crushed lemongrass (using the lemongrass itself as the brush) and turn the skewers regularly to ensure even heat distribution. The grilling can be done indoor using the oven set on broil. Likewise, turn the skewers about every 5 minutes. Grill until they are thoroughly cooked.

8. Serve hot or warm with the cucumber, onion and nasi impit on the side. They go best with the Satay Peanut Dipping Sauce.


  1. Ooh this is my fav especially the peanut sauce and nasi impit. By the way where is the nasi impit. Can you get it from your area?

    1. No, they're nowhere in sight so far. Can you get it over at yours? We had the satay without them. But I probably should try making some next time...

  2. Yes I can get the Nona brand here. Email me your address and I will send you some ;)

    1. I'll take a rain check on that (if that's fine!) lol.

    2. No problem. Just let me know anytime you want it.

  3. I came across your blog by Pinterest and when I read through, I was like, OMG, how can I miss your blog?! I will make sure I come here often leng, great blog! :)

    1. Hi Kaven, you've certainly just made my day! :) Thanks for those real nice words - they're my dose of encouragement! It's great having you stopping by!

  4. Hi. Can we use grill pan over stove top to make this satay, instead of using an oven? Looks very delicious!

    1. Hi Ash, I honestly haven't tried that before, but I don't see a reason why we can't do that. So give it a try! And I'll love to hear from you if it works! Good luck! :)

  5. Just wondering why the peanuts have to be parboiled? Does the sauce taste different if the chopped peanuts were dry? thanks in advance.

  6. Thanks for the recipe. I just tried making some pork and chicken satay last weekend and it's so yummy.

  7. This is one of my favourite and whenever we go to thai restuarant near me ,we order satay and it tastes so good with peanut sauce...Even now it reminds me of the taste at Ban thai..but here in singapore ,it tastes little bit diff.
    urs looks mouthwatering and iam going to try this..


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