Chicken Satay & Peanut Sauce | KitchenTigress

Chicken Satay & Peanut Sauce


Do you know how satay sauce gets its tinge of yellow?

Turmeric?

Wrong! Read on to find out.

I'm following the satay sauce recipe in Best of Singapore Cooking.

My first round of satay sauce is too chunky because the peanuts are all roughly chopped as per the recipe. And the colour doesn't look right. I suspect the recipe should have some turmeric.

For the second round, I pulverize half of the peanuts to give the sauce a smoother and thicker consistency. Surprisingly, that also gives me the right shade of golden yellow colour for the sauce.

Now I know! There's no need to add turmeric. The golden hue comes from roasted peanuts, which have to be finely ground and then boiled to release their colour.

Besides changing the colour of the sauce, the finely ground peanuts also enhancethe . . . "satay flavour". You know what I mean, that special flavour and fragrance unique to satay, that makes satay taste like satay?

How do I grill the chicken?

In the oven.

What, no charcoal?!

Nope, I don't have a charcoal barbecue with naked flames dancing. I will when I have a big house that has a big garden. Meanwhile, the oven would have to do.

Compared to some satay that looks two-dimensional because the meat is so thinly sliced, mine is definitely plus-size. There isn't any drama in my kitchen from leaping flames, dancing sparks or furious fanning. But there's plenty of juicy, succulent meat.

With or without drama, dunking grilled chicken in peanut sauce is one of the biggest pleasures of life.

CHICKEN SATAY & PEANUT SAUCE
Source: Adapted from The Best of Singapore Cooking
(Recipe for 40 sticks and 2 cups of sauce)
Chicken marinade
4 tbsp coriander seeds
4 tsp cumin seeds
20 shallots (120 g)
4 cloves garlic (25 g)
8 stalks lemon grass, tender part only, washed, and roughly chopped
4 slices galangal, washed, and roughly chopped
1 tsp turmeric powder, or ¼ thumb size piece turmeric
2 tsp salt
¾ cup sugar
2 tsp dark soya sauce

1 kg boneless and skinless chicken thighs, washed, dried, and cut small, bite size
8 tbsp oil
40 skewers, soaked in water overnight
Satay peanut sauce (makes about 2 cups, about 2 tsp per skewer)
60 g assam (tamarind), mashed with ½ cup warm water and drained; seeds discarded
250 g toasted peanuts, skinless, and roughly chopped
250 g toasted peanuts, skinless, and finely ground
50 g shallots (8 pieces), roughly chopped
25 g garlic (4 cloves), roughly chopped
2 stalks lemongrass, tender part only, roughly chopped
4 thin slices galangal, roughly chopped
2 tbsp chilli powder, or to taste, mixed with an equal amount of water
6 tbsp vegetable oil
60 g palm sugar, roughly chopped
60 g sugar
½ tbsp salt
Garnish – all in thin, bite size wedges
¼ cup red onion, layers separated
½ cup pineapple
½ cup cucumber

1. To marinate chicken, toast coriander and cumin seeds over medium/low heat till toasty. Whilst still hot, pound or blend with shallots, garlic, lemon grass, galangal and fresh turmeric (if using) to a smooth paste. Mix with remaining ingredients for marinade. Refrigerate for 10-24 hours, covered.

2. To grill chicken (after making peanut sauce – see below), thoroughly mix chicken and marinade with oil. Thread chicken on skewers, snugly. Spread marinade on the meat.

3. Grill chicken till slightly charred and just cooked, about 5 minutes each side. Garnish with pineapple, cucumber and onion. Serve immediately with sauce on the side.

4. To make satay sauce, place peanuts and assam water in a pot. Top up with water to cover peanuts by 3 cm (1 inch or so). Bring to a boil. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes, covered.

5. Whilst peanuts are simmering, pound or blend shallots, garlic, lemongrass and galangal to a smooth paste. Fry paste with chilli powder in hot oil over medium heat till fragrant and colour darkens.

6. Add to peanut mixture together with palm sugar, sugar and salt. Stir to mix thoroughly. Bring back to a boil, and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Reduce sauce or add more water as necessary to get a thick consistency.

7. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Turn off heat. The sauce continues to thicken as it cools down. If necessary, add a wee bit of water and stir through. The sauce is typically served at room temperature or slightly warm, but I think it's ok too piping hot or chilled.