Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

We’ve been having unusually warm weather for January! Last Sunday we pretended it was summer (although it wasn’t that hard to pretend when it was 70 degrees at 5:00 in the evening), fired up the BBQ, and invited some good friends over for appetizers. They brought rounds of polenta (both regular, and sun-dried tomato) topped with sautéed collard greens (fresh from their CSA box), bacon, shrimp and a dollop of roasted red pepper & artichoke tapenade. We loved the combination of flavors and textures – the saltiness of the bacon complimented the sweet polenta, the bitter greens, and the briny shrimp.The tail was even taken off the shrimp making it easy to eat. Well done!

Our contribution was chicken satay with peanut sauce, one of the first things that we ever made together when we started cooking in college. Strips of chicken are marinated in coconut milk, curry power, fish sauce, and cilantro, weaved onto wooden skewers and then cooked over a charcoal grill. Paired with a slightly crunchy and spicy peanut sauce, you will definitely want to serve these at your next party, no matter what temperature it is outside!

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce
(adapted and reworded from William Sonoma Asian)
Serves 4 as an appetizer

1 1/2 lb (750 g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 1/2 cups coconut milk, divided
4 TBS fish sauce, divided
5 TBS. brown sugar, divided
2 TBS. chopped fresh cilantro, plus 1 TBS. chopped stems
1 TBS. hot curry powder
1 shallot
2 garlic cloves
1 TBS. peeled and chopped ginger
1 TBS. peeled and chopped lemongrass
1 fresh hot red chile, seeded and chopped
1 TBS. canola oil
1 TBS. fresh lime juice
1 cup unsalted peanuts, toasted and minced
12-15 bamboo skewers

  • Start soaking the bamboo skewers in a pan of water.
  • Prepare your charcoal (or gas) grill.
  • Cut the chicken thighs into strips, about 3 or 4 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide.
  • In a large bowl, combine 1/2 a cup of the coconut milk, 2 TBS of the fish sauce, 3 TBS. of the brown sugar, the curry powder, and the cilantro. Add the chicken strips and toss to coat. Let marinade in the refrigerator while you prepare the peanut sauce.
  • In a food processor, throw in the shallot, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, chile, and cilantro stems. Process until combined, then add 1-2 TBS. water until it reaches the consistency of a paste.
  • Heat the 1 TBS. of oil in a saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the shallot-garlic mixture. Sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the remaining 1 cup coconut milk, 2 TBS. fish sauce, 2 TBS. brown sugar, the lime juice, and peanuts. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 7 minutes. Taste and add more sugar, fish sauce, or lime juice if you desire.
  • Drain the skewers. Working with one skewer at a time, take a strip of chicken out of the marinade, shaking off excess. Weave the chicken strip onto the skewer (if chicken strips are short, weave 2 or 3 onto 1 skewer).
  • Place the skewers on the hot grill, away from the direct flame. Cover the grill and cook chicken until opaque, about 5-6 minutes.
  • Transfer the skewers to a platter and serve with peanut sauce on the side.

5 thoughts on “Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

  1. Do you think they’d be okay without cilantro or do you consider it a primary ingredient?

    I only ask because I’m allergic…

  2. Oh yeah, you could skip the cilantro both in the sauce and in the marinade. Definitely still try it! It’s so flavorful 🙂

  3. We made this tonight & it was great! The chicken was fabulous by itself. I actually marinated the meat overnight. Unfortunately I tired to ‘mince’ the peanuts in a tiny food processor and I don’t think I got them small enough…. but even so the sauce was delish! Thanks for sharing the recipe. 🙂

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