Peanut butter: It’s not just for jelly.
“Satay”, or “Sati” is a traditional Indonesian dish made from marinated meat, skewered on bamboo rods, grilled, and served with a peanut sauce. It’s quite possibly one of the world’s most delicious foods. The spices of cumin, red pepper and ginger travel so gracefully in the peanut and coconut milk sauce. It’s not very hard to make either, which is downright delightful. It’s warming and creamy and comforting. Served over a bed of white rice and garnished with some fresh green onion and cilantro, it’s a dinner you’ll want to make over and over. The best news is that it’s so easy, you’ll have no problem adding it to your weeknight menu.
The first satay I ever tried was made by an Australian neighbor of mine, about fifteen years ago. Back when we Americans were just starting to explore the world of international cuisine with pesto and a dash of soy sauce here and there. All the while, our Australian cousins were making Thai green curry and spicy Indonesian satay part of their everyday cooking repertoire.
Australians are awesome like that.
If you’ve ever wanted to update your household cooking, push the boundaries a little, and expose your family’s palette to the amazing and diverse world of Southeast Asia; this is a great recipe to get you started.
I developed this recipe with ease in mind (there is even a freeze-ahead option), with a slight nod to safety as well. I don’t have time in my typical day to thread small strands of meat onto skewers, and I’m not sure I trust even half of my children with skewers at the dinner table. New and interesting torture methods are always an “it factor” at my house and I’d rather not introduce any impalement devices.
Let us proceed with the methodology and recipe….
There are two parts to this recipe: The marinade is first.
4 chicken breasts
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lime juice
1 Tbs onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Ancho chili powder
1 tsp white pepper
1 – 3 tsp red pepper flakes (my family likes the hot version with 3 tsp red pepper flakes)
1 Tbs cumin
1 Tbs salt
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs freshly grated ginger
Grab one gallon-sized Ziploc bag and put the four chicken breasts in the bag. Press as much air out as you can, and zip the bag shut. Grab a heavy pan or a mallet and give each chicken breast a couple of good “wacks” to thin them out a little. This is a good thing to know how to do, so remember this whenever you are going to cook some chicken breasts. Modern sized chicken breasts are very thick and thinning them out a little is a great way to make sure they will cook uniformly throughout. Also, “wacking” (tenderizing) the chicken is a great way to scare your kids. They will think you’ve absolutely lost your marbles when they see you beating the heck out of a bag of chicken. Boys especially will be impressed. Their eyes will widen a little and they’ll back out of the kitchen slowly. You might even get a 2 or 3 minutes to yourself.
Just a tip from me to you.
When you’re done “wacking” your chicken, pour all the marinade ingredients into the bag squish it all around until it’s mixed well.
At this point, you have two choices – refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight OR throw this whole bag in the freezer. Right now I have two of these bags in the freezer. Peace of mind! My stress lowers incrementally by how many dinner ideas I have in the freezer
If you do freeze the chicken, defrost it in the fridge for a day or so before the next step.
So you get home from work, and/or from picking up the kids and now it’s time to start dinner. First, start some rice in the rice cooker. Next, take your bag of marinating chicken out of the fridge and throw them on the grill. You can grill them outside, of course, but on a busy weeknight I just pull out the ol’ George Foreman.
Throw the grilled chicken on a cutting board and slice it all pretty like this…
Now it’s time to start making the delicious peanut sauce!
Simple, simple. First slice 1/2 and onion and crush a couple garlic cloves. Saute them in 1 tbs of olive oil until they are just softened.
Combine the following in a small bowl: 2 Tbs soy sauce, 2 Tbs brown sugar, 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, 3 Tbs lime juice and 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter.
No need to mix it all together. That peanut butter would be a nightmare to mix. Just throw it all in one bowl, then dump the whole bowl into the onion and garlic mixture. That peanut butter will melt right down. Just keep stirring it all and soon you’ll have an INCREDIBLY fragrant mixture.
When it’s all bubbling evenly, pour in one (14-16oz) can of Thai-style coconut milk.
Stir to incorporate….
Let it simmer for 3-4 minutes. It will thicken just slightly.
You are almost done! Now throw the grilled chicken in the sauce!
Toss the chicken in the sauce and garnish with a couple sliced green onions (I just use the green part, not the white), and a good bunch of sliced fresh cilantro.
Scoop the rice out of the rice cooker and top it with this delicious, amazing chicken satay.
I’ve been working on this recipe for the past couple weeks. We’ve been eating a lot of it, and none of us are one bit tired of it. My husband loves it and always raves about it in a colorful and enthusiastic Marine Corps-like way, which is really the highest compliment.