Thursday, January 14, 2010

Satay with the Daring Cooks

Street food is very trendy right now. With the aid of Twitter and the Internet and cell phones vendors can set up, even without permits, let their 'faithful' know where they are and quickly draw crowds in urban areas, sell out, then drift off before the authorities can tag them. There have been reports of that kind of bandit street food and licensed street food becoming the hottest thing in San Francisco and Seattle and other large cities. Legitimate cart vendors often have a regular place they are found by their fans and their food is also a draw and often quite good, plus less expensive than regular restaurants.

The Daring Cooks have made some of the kinds of food that work well as street food, including pho, dosas, potstickers, and Spanish rice, to name a few. I've been unable to participate in some of these challenges but hope to do better in 2010.

To start the new year, the challenge is making satay. The January 2010 DC challenge was hosted by Cuppy of Cuppylicious and she chose a delicious Thai-inspired recipe for Pork Satay from the book 1000 Recipes by Martha Day. Satay is also a great kind of street food because it is marinated, comes on a stick for ease of transportation, and can be quickly cooked over charcoal. For this challenge Cuppy challenges us with two marinades and three sauces. I chose to make the slightly more labor intensive marinade. Actually, with the use of a food processor, this is super, super quick and easy.

Juicing the lemon was the most time consuming part. I went easy on the chilies since I'm not partial to heat spicy. While the chicken thigh strips were marinating in the 'fridge, I put together the peanut sauce, again going easy on the hot stuff. I did add some fresh cilantro, chopped, and some diced peanuts. Served up on a bed of fresh baby spinach and cilantro, this was a delightful snack or appetizer. Thank you Cuppy for stepping up to the plate as host at the last minute and for choosing a food that I've often enjoyed in restaurants but never tried making. Now it will be a go to recipe for entertaining...or just because I want some. You can use port or beef or tofu instead of the chicken, too.

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

1/2 small onion
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon ginger root, peeled
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or peanut or olive oil)
1 pound chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch strips

In a food process or blender, place the onion, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, soy sauce, spices and vegetable oil. Process or blend until smooth. Scrape into a zip lock type bag large enough to hold the marinade and chicken. Add the chicken, lock the bag, and shake to distribute the marinade. Refrigerate, turning the bag a few times during the marinating period of 1-4 hours (and up to 12 hours).

While the chicken is marinating, prepare the skewers. Lightly oil metal skewers. Soak wooden skewers in warm water for at least 20 minutes.

Peanut Sauce - can be made toward end of marinating period or right after chicken cooks
3/4 cup coconut milk
4 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
3-4 tablespoons chopped peanuts for garnish

Mix coconut milk and peanut butter in a saucepan over low heat. In a small bowl blend the lemon juice, soy, brown sugar, cayenne, cilantro and garlic salt. Stir into the peanut mixture. Heat through. Put into small dipping bowl and garnish with chopped peanuts.

Cooking the Satay

Remove the marinated chicken from the marinade. Thread the strips onto the skewers. Cook over preheated grill or under broiler for 5-10 minutes until cooked through, turning once.

Group some fresh baby spinach leaves on a small plate. Place dipping sauce bowl at one side of plate. Place skewers over spinach leaves, or slide chicken off skewers onto spinach. Serve while hot. The photo is at the top of the post to show how it turned out.


  1. I love the flavour of satay sauce. Your skewers look great.

  2. I have been seeing a lot of satay recipes in here! I like it so much!

  3. That 1st photo of the satay on teh spinach leaves looks so appealing well done and great how you loved it so much. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

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  5. Chicken Satay is a favorite of mine. I need to try to make this!

  6. Elle, you did the satay the way it should be done..threading loose strips onto the skewer instead of one large strip, which produces a much more tender bite to the meat. Unfortunately, I went the way of the recipe. They look delicious and so moist!

  7. I love satay, and homemade is much better, because usually in restaurants they are so small,
    Very good -

  8. Your satay looks pretty good. I didnt do this challenge as I've made satay before and posted about it too. Also, we think Satay is Malaysian and NOT Thai so there was some patriotic reason not to do this... LOL!