A quick chicken satay recipe to go with peanut sauce. I believe the secret to good and fragrant chicken satay is the marinades. And of course the grilling part: the purists would insist on using charcoal-grill. When you don’t have charcoal and would just like to make some easy satay, you do make use of what you have. I honestly think that pan-grilled satays are just as good. Aren’t all food that was made with love conquer all?
Back to the marinades, I went back to the basic, everything in moderation is the key. The spices of my choice are shallots and garlic, coriander seeds, tamarind, palm sugar and salt. There are two reasons for this lack of spices (compared to my other recipes). The heat emitted from grill pan will not be as hot as charcoal-open-fire grill, so the meat should not have thick marinade paste covering it or it will really take much longer to cook, and ultimately, tough chicken. Second reason, it relates to the laziness to go through with the authentic Indonesian chicken satay-making rituals. The simplification is a bit extreme, but it does taste good, with half the work.
Grind spices using mortar and pestle or grinder to coarse paste. Fine and smooth paste will do too.
Use chicken thigh fillet. If not available, chicken breast is just as great. Cut the chicken into long strips across the grains. This would prevent the chicken strips breaking up when skewered.
Marinade in a bowl with spice paste, shaved palm sugar, tamarind pulp juice and salt. If darker and caramelized chicken satay is what you go for, add a couple of tablespoons sweet soy sauce in the marinade bowl.
Leave the chicken in the fridge for 15-30 minutes to let the marinades work its wonder.
Skewer the chicken on bamboo skewers. Thread in the chicken by twisting and turning the strips across the skewers. The meat should be thick and loosely skewered. Medium-sized satay would have about 10cm-length of meat, if smaller satay is preferred, I would go for half that size. My logic? Satay is a delicious meat on a stick, but there’s nothing sexy in trying to eat satay that’s threaded half way onto the stick. I fear I would stick the bamboo skewer too deeply into my throat trying to get the last bit of the flavorful chicken. Again, not sexy!
Heat a non-stick grill pan over medium heat. Place the chicken satay on the grill and grill away. Try to get all sides browned. Also, use a brush to brush in the marinade liquid in the bowl. Don’t waste the juicy spices away.
I have nothing against charred meat as long as it is not as black as charcoal. But I think satay should be browned, if not borderline burnt. Since during skewering we were using the twist and turn technique, it is slightly difficult to get everything evenly cooked. So be careful there.
Serve warm with peanut sauce, or simple sweet soy sauce and chopped shallots. Or sweet soy sauce with deep-fried shallot flakes. Or just plain o’ chicken on a stick!
Easy Pan-Grilled Chicken Satay
2 garlic cloves
20 g coriander seeds
1/2 tsp palm sugar (gula melaka or gula merah), shaved
1/4 tsp tamarind pulp, soaked in 1/4 cup water, worked on the pulp to get the juice and discard the pits and membranes
1/2 tsp salt
375 g chicken breast, cut into 0.5cm strips
Grind garlic, shallots and coriander seeds to paste
Marinade the chicken stripes with the paste, tamarind juice, salt and palm sugar for 15 - 30 minutes
Thread chicken strips on skewers
Heat non-stick grill pan over high heat. Grill satay, 3-5 minutes each side, till nicely browned and cooked
Serve with peanut sauce or sweet soy sauce