Easy Pan-Grilled Chicken Satay

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

Makes 25-30 satays


2 garlic cloves
6 shallots
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

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27 Responses to “Easy Pan-Grilled Chicken Satay”

  1. 1

    JUSTINE — November 30, 2010 @ 9:00 pm

    Love this!

    • Jun replied: — December 1st, 2010 @ 7:16 am


  2. 2

    Trissa — November 30, 2010 @ 9:04 pm

    Can I just say I love your blog? I must have said it so many times but you just make me feel like running to my kitchen and making this… I like the way you write as well – very encouraging – none of this “you have to use charcoal, you have to use chicken thighs etc….” THANK YOU!

    • Jun replied: — December 1st, 2010 @ 7:24 am

      You always say the kindest thing in my comment boxes! You are my most favorite commenter ever!

      Thank you!

  3. 3

    Carolyn Jung — November 30, 2010 @ 10:34 pm

    Can you substitute brown sugar for palm sugar? Gawd, these look so finger-licking good. ;)

    • Jun replied: — December 1st, 2010 @ 7:25 am

      Of course! Though the color would be much paler than my satays, I suppose using the same amount (1/4 tsp) will give it the same degree of sweetness

  4. 4

    sukaina — December 1, 2010 @ 12:33 am

    This looks amazing……can’t wait to try it out….i’m not a fan of peanut sauce though so will be having the satay on its own!

    • Jun replied: — December 1st, 2010 @ 7:26 am

      Thank you for your visit and comment!

  5. 5

    Kulsum at JourneyKitchen — December 1, 2010 @ 12:35 am

    Wht a great looking Chicken satay. I add a little more spice to it and I think pan grilled works really well even for many Indian grills that traditionally require charcoal! What is that you served it with? looks like peanut sauce I know but could u direct me to the recipe?

  6. 6

    mycookinghut — December 1, 2010 @ 1:36 pm

    I am a big fan of satay!! I seriously need to make some!

  7. 7

    vincent — December 1, 2010 @ 5:00 pm


    We bumped into your blog and we really liked it – great recipes YUM YUM.
    We would like to add it to the Petitchef.com.

    We would be delighted if you could add your blog to Petitchef so that our users can, as us,
    enjoy your recipes.

    Petitchef is a french based Cooking recipes Portal. Several hundred Blogs are already members
    and benefit from their exposure on Petitchef.com.

    To add your site to the Petitchef family you can use http://en.petitchef.com/?obj=front&action=site_ajout_form or just go to Petitchef.com and click on “Add your site”

    Best regards,


    • Jun replied: — December 4th, 2010 @ 4:18 am

      Thank you for your visit! But I have already been a member many months ago. :)

  8. 8

    Marc @ NoRecipes.com — December 1, 2010 @ 11:01 pm

    This looks amazing! Love how few ingredients it has. Just clicked over to your peanut sauce too and I can see myself keeping a big tub of it in the fridge to put on everything.

    • Jun replied: — December 4th, 2010 @ 4:22 am

      Indonesian cooking is a real pain. It takes a lot of courage to simplify it. I am still learning :)

  9. 9

    Quay Po Cooks — December 3, 2010 @ 4:50 am

    Jun, I have never make satay at home before because it is so easy to run to coffee shop near my house to get it. Your recipe and lovely photos makes me want to make this from now on…I love browsing you blog… your photos are eye candies!

    • Jun replied: — December 4th, 2010 @ 4:22 am

      Thank you! You always leave one of the nicest comments!

  10. 10

    Hannah — December 4, 2010 @ 8:43 am

    That spice blend sounds delicious- Bright and full of flavor. I’d love to try it on a tofu skewers, perhaps! :)

    • Jun replied: — December 5th, 2010 @ 3:51 am

      Tofu skewers? Please do! It will be delicious!

  11. 11

    Mackenzie@The Caramel Cookie — December 4, 2010 @ 5:31 pm

    This looks delicious, especially with the peanbut sauce!

    • Jun replied: — December 5th, 2010 @ 3:52 am

      It was very satisfying. I love spicy food!

  12. 12

    Soma — December 5, 2010 @ 5:20 pm

    The spices sound just so perfect esp. the gorgeous looking peanut sauce. I would not want anything more in this. I have never used palm sugar in satay. yes I like the grilled satay just rightly browned, not black.

    • Jun replied: — December 14th, 2010 @ 11:12 am

      Your satay must have really nice color! We always use palm sugar and dark soy sauce to caramelize satays

  13. 13

    angi — December 10, 2010 @ 11:58 am

    I always thought I wouldn’t be able to make satay because we don’t have a grill (or a place to put a grill) in the apartment, but I’m so happy I’m wrong – yay! Thanks for showing me it’s possible to make satay indoors, Jun. I can’t wait to try this.

    • Jun replied: — December 14th, 2010 @ 11:13 am

      We just bought a small flimsy- aluminum-made satay griller. Let’s see if I use it next week, or I might just stick with the grill pan. LOL

  14. 14

    Cucee Sprouts — May 3, 2011 @ 12:33 pm

    I am craving grilled chicken but I would have to make it without the nuts (allergies.) I will also pair it with an Arugula salad http://cuceesprouts.com/2011/05/blueberry-surprise-salad/, a recipe that I posted on my blog recently. The two will go really well together

  15. 15

    Katie Emily Evans — March 2, 2015 @ 8:35 am

    I wanted to thank you for posting such delicious recipes online! All the recipes I have tried on your blog has been all so delicious. I just wished that it was easier for me to get Thai ingredients so that I can cook more Thai food at home. Thank you once again for your beautiful recipes and blog! http://tasteusa.blogspot.com

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