Malaysian Satay With Peanut Sauce

August 14, 2018
Photo by Julia Gartland
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. —Yi Jun Loh

Test Kitchen Notes

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

  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Makes 12 to 15 satay skewers
  • 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
In This Recipe
  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.

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Engineer + cook + food blogger. All about cross-cultural cooking, funky-fresh ferments, and abusing alliteration.