Norman Musa’s Chicken Satay Skewers
Chicken satay is always a crowd-pleaser and is an ideal party dish. There are many different types of marinade, and this is one of the simplest, giving the chicken a smoky caramelised flavour with a hint of lemongrass, cumin and turmeric. For a complete satay meal, it is served with peanut sauce, cucumber wedges, red onion slices and, if you want to be really authentic, cubes of pressed rice.
For the peanut sauce (the raw peanuts can be dry-roasted in a frying pan or in the oven, but before blitzing them in the food processor, make sure they have completely cooled down – this will help make them crunchy and not soft and “stale”)
300g raw peanuts, blanched
16 tbsp vegetable oil
2 stalks of lemongrass, bruised
4 tbsp tamarind paste (or lemon or lime juice)
8 tbsp dark coconut sugar or molasses sugar
4 tsp fine sea salt
6 tbsp sweet soy sauce
8 tbsp coconut milk
For the paste
6 stalks of lemongrass (use bottom half only)
10 cloves of garlic
10cm fresh ginger
24 dried chillies, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes
For the chicken satay
4 stalks of lemongrass (use bottom half only)
1kg of boneless chicken thighs, cut into 10cm-long strips
3 tbsp ground turmeric
½ tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp fine sea salt
3 tbsp white sugar
30 bamboo satay skewers, 17.5cm long (soaked in water for 30 minutes if barbecuing)
For the brushing oil
100ml vegetable oil
1 tbsp white sugar
50ml coconut milk
1 stalk of lemongrass, bruised
For the garnish
1 red onion, cut into thick slices
1 cucumber, cut into small wedges
First, make the peanut sauce: Heat a wok or a medium frying pan over a medium heat and dry-toast the peanuts for 5 minutes, until charred. Cool down completely, then blitz in a food processor or with a hand blender, leaving them slightly coarse-textured. Scoop into a bowl and set aside. Purée all the paste ingredients until smooth, in a food processor or using a hand blender. Heat a medium saucepan over a medium heat, and add all the oil and lemongrass. Wait until the oil sizzles, then add the paste. Sauté for 2 minutes, then add the tamarind, sugar and salt and cook for a further 2 minutes, until the oil separates. Next, add the peanuts, soy sauce and coconut milk, along with 400ml of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and produced a layer of oil at the top. Serve warm.
Next, make the chicken satay: Blitz the lemongrass with a dash of water until smooth, using a food processor or hand blender. Transfer to a bowl and add the chicken, turmeric, cumin, salt and 3 tbsp of sugar. Mix thoroughly, then leave to marinate for at least two hours, and preferably overnight in the refrigerator.
Carefully thread the chicken pieces onto the bamboo skewers. The meat should cover the skewer to prevent it getting burnt when grilling. Cover the tip of the skewer too. To make the brushing oil, put the oil, sugar and coconut milk into a small bowl and mix well.
Satay is best when cooked on a barbecue or a charcoal grill; alternatively, you can use a griddle pan. Place the chicken skewers on the barbecue or grill and use the bruised lemongrass to coat them with the oil mixture and keep the moisture in. Turn the skewers to make sure the chicken is coated evenly.
When the chicken is cooked through, and is brown and slightly charred, garnish with the onion and cucumber and serve with peanut sauce.
Extracted from Amazing Malaysian by Norman Musa (Square Peg, approx €25), out now.