Chicken Satay

I’ve decided that I’m not a big fan of so-called texture in some of my food; I don’t want crunchy seeds on my salad leaves, for example. Neither do I want crunchy bits of peanut in Satay Sauce. So, since our trip to Sri Lanka, where we had quite a few helpings of Nasi Goreng accompanying Chicken Satay with smooth peanut sauce, I have revised my approach to the latter.

This is my revised Chicken Satay recipe to go along with it. Once the accompanying Satay Sauce had been separated out, this becomes all about the marinade and grilling. Reserve chicken breasts, which can be very dry, for moist cooking methods such as a Thai Green Chicken Curry; chicken thighs are better suited to a fierce grilling.


serves: 4
preparation time: 2½ hrs
cooking time: 10 mins


  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3cm piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped lemongrass
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp kecap manis
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 500g chicken thighs, boned weight
  • 1 qty Satay Sauce


Marinating the chicken. Toast the coriander seeds in a dry pan until fragrant, and then grind to a powder in a pestle and mortar. Add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, then pound to a rough paste along with a generous grinding of black pepper. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the oil, kecap manis and soy sauce.

Cut the chicken thighs into long strips about 3cm wide and stir into the marinade, mixing well. Cover, refrigerate and leave to marinade for at least 30 minutes if you’ve got it, or up to 12 hours. To maintain authenticity, soak eight wooden skewers in cold water until ready to use. Alternatively, for ease use stainless steel skewers.

When you’re ready to eat, thread the strips of meat onto the skewers in an “S” shape, pushing them down so they’re all touching. To cook the skewers, I prefer a barbecue. If it’s a gas barbecue, consider using a silicon grill mat to keep it clean. Second choice of cooking method would be a griddle pan. Failing that you can stick the skewers under a hot grill. Either way, cook over/under a medium-high heat source for about 15-20 minutes until cooked through, turning regularly. You can turn the heat down to medium on the griddle after all are well charred – don’t worry about black bits, they add flavour.

Meanwhile warm the Satay Sauce over a gentle heat Adjust the consistency (you decide) as necessary by adding water. Serve the cooked skewers with the sauce.

For our Sri Lankan experience, you might add the Nasi Goreng, too.

Get a pdf version of this recipe

Posted in Poultry

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