Malaysian Satay With Peanut Sauce

August 14, 2018
13 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Makes 12 to 15 satay skewers
Author Notes

A great satay is made up of three things—flavorful, succulent meat, a good char, and a great peanut dipping sauce. Out of the three, the sauce is the one that’s often overlooked. But get it right, and it’ll be a real game-changer, perfect for your next satay shindig. —Jun

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: Malaysian Chicken Satay & the Addictive Sauce That Makes Them Shine. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the chicken satay
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 shallots
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • For the peanut sauce
  • 3/4 cup (110 grams) peanuts, peeled and roasted
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 shallots
  • 3 dried red chilies
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 1 half-inch piece galangal (can be substituted with ginger or 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder)
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon tamarind paste, can be substituted with the juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Salt, to taste
  1. For the chicken satay
  2. Cut the chicken thighs into small, 1-inch chunks.
  3. In a blender or food processor, blend the shallots and lemongrass until it becomes a smooth paste. Add in a tablespoon or two of water to help it blend if needed. Mix the blended ingredients with the turmeric, coriander and cumin powder, brown sugar, and salt. Rub this marinade paste onto the pieces of chicken, and store covered in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or up to overnight.
  4. Thread the pieces of chicken onto bamboo skewers, fitting 4-5 pieces on each skewer. Brush a bit of vegetable oil onto the pieces of chicken, and grill for 2-3 minutes on each side until nicely charred.
  1. For the peanut sauce
  2. Blend the roasted peanuts in a blender or food processor until fine and sandy. (Some rough bits are fine, but be careful not to blend it too much as it’ll turn into peanut butter. I find the best way to do this is to pulse it with a couple of 2-second bursts.)
  3. In a blender or food processor, blend the garlic, shallots, dried chillies, lemongrass, galangal, and oil until it becomes a really smooth paste.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the tamarind paste, water, soy sauce, brown sugar, and salt. Stir to dissolve the tamarind paste. Sift out and discard the tamarind seeds and undissolved tamarind flesh if there’s any.
  5. Transfer the spice paste into a saucepan, and fry on medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes, until it becomes really aromatic and starts to split. Add in the roasted peanuts and the tamarind liquid, and bring it all to a boil. Taste the sauce, and adjust the seasoning with more salt and brown sugar if necessary.
  6. The sauce is best served immediately when it’s still warm. So quick, dip your satays in it! Here’s a tip - the more sauce you manage to get on your satay, the better it tastes.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • karmaya
  • Jun
  • OrangeCrush
  • Linda D
    Linda D

14 Reviews

OrangeCrush June 9, 2021
Question: how much of the lemongrass does one use? I used the whole thing. I struggled with getting it super smooth in my food processor and I believe the lemograss may be the culprit. Yours looks creamier in the photo, mine kinda looks like oarmeal.
Also two thumbs up for flavor!
Linda D. April 21, 2021
Thank you so very much, Jun. Absolutely delicious! The chicken was flavorful and moist. The peanut sauce was complex and made my tongue sing! Thank you!
lwinikow July 23, 2020
I made this and it completely rocked! The taste was complex, the chicken thighs were tender, and the sauce wasn't your typical too sweet peanut was delicious! The whole thing was fantastic and I can't wait until we are able to have dinner parties again because I will definitely serve this-thank you!.
Anna August 21, 2018
Hey, very good article! My wife cooks very well too, thanks to you. But she also likes experimenting and trying something new. We’ve been living together for 5 years since we started chatting on a dating site and every day I love her even more.
cosmiccook August 19, 2018
How much and what kind of chilies, if you please kind sir???
Jun August 20, 2018
Ah! I should've clarified, they're dried red chilies.
cosmiccook August 19, 2018
Chilis? what kind, how much, dried or fresh????
Jun August 20, 2018
Dried red chilies work best for the sauce.
Barbra M. August 19, 2018
What kind of chilis? There are so many options that some guidance would be really appreciated.
Jun August 20, 2018
Sorry I should've clarified! Most dried red chilies would work well for this recipe. Hope this helps!
liliana August 19, 2018
Can this be broiled in oven?
Jun August 20, 2018
The end result will be pretty different compared to one cooked over a charcoal grill, and it might be little tricky to get a good amount of char without overcooking the chicken, but it can certainly be done!
karmaya August 18, 2018
All your wonderful recipes would make more sense if you would stop saying "substitute for" when you mean substitute WITH or substitute BY (don't have galangal? substitute with ginger. So.. ginger is the substitute for galangal. Get it? 😉)
Other than that, all's good!
Jun August 18, 2018
That is a great point. I've changed it, thanks for the feedback!