It’s a pretty common occurrence to hear a song and have it remind you of something, somewhere or someone. For foodies like me, a certain food does the same. There are the obvious, like chicken soup reminding me of my mother, French toast reminding me of my childhood and oysters, oddly enough, bring me back to Las Vegas.
Chicken satay will always make me think of my older brother. Two years older than me, half a world away and still my best friend, my brother is what I like to call a “raw foodie”. He’s not into the snobby part that comes along with the title, but really a lover of simple, authentic flavors and tastes. He knows all the best ethnic ‘hole-in-the walls’ from taco truck to Indian spot in Los Angeles. Chicken is so unpretentiously his favorite protein.
Satay is marinated, skewered and grilled meats found all throughout South East Asia, especially in Indonesia and Thailand. They are generally served with a sauce, and every time I’ve eaten Thai satay in a proper Thai restaurant it also comes with a cucumber pickle.
This recipe requires ingredients found in the Thai pantry like red curry paste and palm sugar. I wouldn’t try to substitute these ingredients as they are easily found in Asian markets, especially here in Israel with the large Thai population. These are the type of ingredients that you buy once; they have a long shelf life and are used in many Thai recipes so it’s worth getting them and keeping them in the pantry.
If you are using wooden skewers, place them in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling and it will prevent them from burning.
Ingredients for 4 servings:
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
150 ml. canola oil
100 ml. soy sauce
2 tablespoons palm sugar
1 pound/500 grams chicken breast, pounded and sliced into thin strips
- 1. Place all ingredients except the chicken into a large bowl and mix well.
- 2. Add the chicken slices and stir thoroughly so that all the pieces are well coated. Allow to marinate for a minimum of four hours, preferably overnight.
- 3. Carefully place the chicken onto skewers, leaving space on either end. Place the skewers on a well heated grill pan or directly onto a preheated barbeque. Cook on one side for about 4-5 minutes, and then turn over to the other side. Continue cooking until chicken is completely cooked. Serve hot with peanut sauce and cucumber pickle.
Easy Peanut Sauce
You can find readymade peanut sauce in Asian markets and specialty stores, but if you have the ingredients on hand, it takes about 15 minutes to make.
Ingredients for about one cup:
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons Red Curry Paste
3 tablespoons coconut milk
125 ml. water
3 tablespoons palm sugar
125 grams/4 oz. crushed peanuts
- Heat the oil in a wok and then add the curry paste. Cook for about 30 seconds over high heat and then stir in the remaining ingredients. Reduce heat and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
Ingredients for about 1½ cups:
75 ml. water
2 tablespoons sugar
2½ tablespoons vinegar
¼ teaspoon chili flakes
A pinch of salt
1 large cucumber, or about 5 small ones, cut into small chunks
1 shallot, thinly sliced
- In a small saucepan, heat the water on medium heat, add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature and then add the vinegar, chili and salt.
- Place the cucumber and shallot into an airtight container and pour in the vinegar mixture. Refrigerate and allow to marinate for at least one hour before serving.
- The pickle may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.