“If all you’ve ever had is a store-bought satay in Australia, I really hope you try this recipe because it will revolutionise the way you think about satay. These are sweet and deeply fragrant, full of wonderful South East Asian aromatics. The sauce is less about a gravy of spicy peanut butter, and more of a lusciously complex sauce of which peanuts are a balanced part of the flavour profile. The accompaniments are often met with surprise, but provided to be dipped in the sauce to give refreshing respite from the richly marinated morsels of satay meat. You can substitute the chicken with chuck steak to make satay beef. ” Poh Ling Yeow, Poh & Co.
2 kg chicken thigh fillets, trimmed of sinew
400 g (2 cups) jasmine rice, washed and drained
1 tsp salt
bamboo skewers, soaked for 1 hour
2 cm piece galangal, peeled, thinly sliced, then chopped
8 lemongrass stalks, white part only, thinly sliced
2 tbsp ground turmeric
4 cloves garlic, sliced
10 small red Asian shallots or 2 medium Spanish onions, peeled and sliced
110 g (½ cup) brown sugar
3 tsp salt
½ tsp dark soy sauce
125 ml (½ cup) vegetable oil
2 tbsp ground coriander
2 tbsp ground cumin
20 long dried red chillies
2 cm thick piece galangal, peeled and chopped
2 stalks lemongrass, inner white part only, thinly sliced
8 garlic cloves, sliced
12 red Asian shallots (or 3-4 medium red onions), roughly sliced
200 ml vegetable oil
1-2 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tbsp lime juice, plus extra to taste
160 g (⅔ cup) brown sugar
1 tsp salt, plus extra to taste
500 g (3⅓ cups) crushed, roasted and salted peanuts
1 small ripe pineapple, peeled and cored, cut into 1 cm-thick triangles
2 red onions, peeled, cut into 2 cm cubes and layers separated
2 Lebanese cucumbers, quartered lengthways, then sliced into 2 cm pieces
Marinating time 5 hours or overnight if time permits
To make the marinade, blend all the marinade ingredients until smooth, then set aside.
Cutting the meat for a satay is very difficult to describe because it’s not a straight slice or dice. What you want to achieve is something like an elongated triangle that is cut against the grain, no more than 2 cm wide, 1 cm thick and 3-4 cm long, irregular in shape but similar in size. Place the chicken pieces in a large zip-lock bag. Add the marinade and push all the air out of the bag, then seal the bag and massage the meat through the bag, making sure every piece of meat is coated with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.
To make the pressed rice, combine the rice, salt and 1 litre of water in a saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat. Simmer for 10 minutes, then cover and simmer on medium heat for another 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and stand, covered, for another 15 minutes. Note that the rice is deliberately mushy, so it can be pressed easily. Spread the rice evenly into a foil-lined, 20 cm square baking tin, cover with foil, then press with an oven mitt to compress the rice evenly. Allow to cool completely to room temperature before cutting into 2 cm cubes.
To make the peanut sauce, break the dried chillies in half and shake out the seeds. Place them in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then simmer over low heat for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and stand for 15 minutes. Place the chillies and soaking water, galangal, lemongrass, garlic and shallots in a blender and process until smooth. Set aside.
To cook the sauce, heat the oil in a medium-large heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Add the blended spice paste, then cook, stirring continuously to prevent the bottom from catching and cook for 5-8 minutes or until there is very little steam rising from the sauce. At this stage, the oil will have split from the spice paste, caramelising into a lovely dark red and developing a beautiful fragrance. Add 1 litre of water and bring to the boil. Add the tamarind, lime, sugar, salt and half the crushed peanuts. Bring to boil again, then remove from heat and set aside until required. Reheat over low heat just before serving, then stir in the remaining nuts. Taste the sauce and if necessary add a little more salt or lime juice.
Following the length of each piece of meat, thread 3-4 pieces on each soaked bamboo skewer, making sure each piece is sitting flatly. The end appearance of each skewer will be a thin thread of meat which basically has 2 flat sides, making the satay easy to turn and cook. Cook the satay skewers on a preheated charcoal grill or barbecue flat plate for 2-3 minutes or until the meat is slightly charred and cooked through.
To serve, divide peanut sauce into individual bowls and place satays, pineapple, onion, cucumber and cubed rice at the centre of the table to share.