Of Second Chances – Best Homestyle Chicken Satay

So Chinese New Year ended like a week ago. The good thing about having a second new year is that you get a second chance at making resolutions you know you’re not likely to keep; such as work out more, scream at the kids less, procrastinate less and finally, start writing again. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll recognise the pictures from last summer. I’m finally posting the recipe (2 resolutions with one post! I am on a roll!).

Satay is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Everyone loves it and if you don’t, you need to get yourself checked (I kid!!). I pored over the internet and studied various cookbooks to find the perfect recipe. Then I realised that it’s Teriyaki Salmon all over again. There is no unanimous recipe for Satay. Everyone has their own versions – Malaysian, Singaporean, Indonesian, Thai and more –  and they are all too different from one another to find common ground. So, if you can’t beat them, join them. I made up my own recipe and I’m happy to say that it’s a winner. Every time I serve it, they fly off the plate and I quietly scold myself for not having made more.

We used to make this on our trusty gas grill or even on a grill pan on the stovetop and we always thought it was really good…… Until my dad brought us a satay grill. It’s nothing more than a tin tray with a couple of bars running across it. Come to think of it, it’s really just a mini charcoal grill. But it made all the difference. Truly, nothing beats cooking over glowing hot charcoal. We could never achieve that smoky, slightly charred sugar flavour until now.

Satay grill

This recipe was developed (oh my, I feel like Julia Child already) with Indonesian Satay in mind so I used quite a bit of Kecap Manis. What is Kecap Manis and where can you get it? It’s Indonesian sweet soy sauce. Literally, Kecap = sauce and Manis = sweet. It’s very thick and dark, almost like blackstrap molasses (please don’t use molasses as a substitute!). You can find it mostly at the asian grocer’s and I *THINK* I might have seen it at select larger Migros. If you can get ABC Kecap Manis, that would be best, otherwise just make sure it says Kecap Manis on the bottle. If it’s got anything even remotely Chinese on it, put it back (I learnt that the hard way). What if you can’t find it anywhere??? Fret not. Apparently, you can make your own. I’ve never tried it myself but hey, always good to have options. Am I right?

Before people start dissing that this is not the real deal, I’m gonna say it first: It leans towards Indonesian Satay but no, it’s probably not authentic. Still, we love it. And the sauce that goes with it……I kinda winged it but it works. Really well. I might be blowing my own horn here but I’ve not had satay anywhere else that is as good or better. It is the best I’ve ever had. The best. Just try it. You have to try it. Really. Like now. TRY IT NOW!!


(Best)Homestyle Chicken Satay

Serves 4

  • 8 chicken thighs, skinned, de-boned and cut into bite sized cubes
  • Bamboo skewers, soaked for an hour to prevent burning
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced
  • 1 cm Galangal, sliced very thin
  • 1 Thai chili (optional), chopped
  • ¼ cup kecap manis
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamon
  • ¼ tsp paprika powder
  1. Combine all ingredients for marinade in a large bowl. Give the shallots, galangal and chili a bit of a crush with the spoon while mixing. Alternatively, throw everything into a blender.
  2. Add chicken pieces and mix well to coat. Set aside for at least an hour, preferably overnight.
  3. Thread the meat onto the skewers and cook on a hot grill for 2-3 minutes on each side until cooked through and slightly charred on the edges. Serve hot with cucumber, onions and rice cakes if you’re going the extra mile.

Satay raw

Super easy Satay Sauce

  • 1 shallot, finely sliced
  • 2 Thai chili, finely sliced
  • 2 Tbsp Kecap Manis
  • 1 tsp Tamarind paste (not the super concentrated one)
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter
  1. Mix it all in a bowl. Done.
  2. If it’s too thick, thin it with a little water

*Sorry I don’t have a picture of the sauce. It was a mad rush to snap a picture before the kids got to the table. I’ll update when I do.

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