Malaysian Chicken Sate

Sate (or satay) has apparently been invented by Javanese street food sellers. This marinated and grilled meat on skewers served with a peanut sauce is a part of  many Southeast Asian cuisines. Up till now I have only eaten the Thai version and it was one of my favourite dishes. Then, one day, I was delivered the  Singaporean, Indonesian and Malaysian Cuisine by Christina Sjahir Hwang and discovered a completely new face of the Asian cuisine. Apart from the peanuts this sate recipe is very different from the most famous, Thai version. It is complex and seems very original for those who, like me, have never been to a Malaysian restaurant or Malaysia! (actually I have this impression every time I make a recipe from this book!).

The recipe is very easy but it requires a lot of ingredients and a mortar or a good food processor. Since I do Sate quite often, I always have all of them ready. The marinade calls for candlenuts which are relatively easy to find in Asian groceries, but I was advised macadamia nuts by my friend who has Indonesian origins. Apparently candlenuts are toxic when raw, and since I didn’t now how long they should be cooked I preferred to stick to macadamia nuts. If you know how to handle candlenuts, use them of course!

I have modified the ingredients a bit, e.g. adding more salt.  Since I don’t have the grill I simply fry the marinated meat, charring it a bit, and I am usually too lazy to use skewers. It is delicious this way too!

Special equipment: a food processor or a mortar

Preparation: 30 minutes + at least several hours for marinating

Ingredients (serves 2 as a main course or 3 as an appetizer):

2 chicken breasts cut into slices


2 tablespoons minced shallot

1/3 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root

1/3 tablespoon minced garlic clove

1/3 tablespoon candlenuts or macadamia nuts

1/4 turmeric powder

1 tablespoon coriander (ground)

2 T sweet soy sauce (Ketjap Manis, available in most Asian groceries)

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 lemon grass crushed

Sauce (Peanut Sambal):

2 chili peppers

3 garlic cloves

pinch of salt

60ml hot water

60 ml peanut butter

2 t tamarind juice

2 tablespoons palm sugar (or any other sugar you have)

2 tablespoons oil

Mix all the marinade ingredients in a blender or grind in a mortar. Marinate the meat  preferably overnight or two-three hours if you don’t have time.

Prepare the sauce, mixing or grinding all the ingredients. Put it aside (it can be left for a couple of days in the fridge) and warm just before serving the dish.

Soak the skewers in water.

Scrub off the bigger bits of lemon grass (if, like me, you haven’t managed to grind them into a smooth paste). Mix the meat with the oil, put onto soaked skewers and grill (or heat the oil in a pan and fry them).

Serve with the sauce as an appetizer or with rice and the sauce as a main course.