Chicken satay with peanut sauce is a delicious and easy to make dinner, or appetizer. Skewers of seasoned chicken pair up with a flavorful Satay dipping sauce.
(This post was originally published on June 12, 2012. I’ve recently updated it with Paleo and Whole30 options and nutritional information. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn commission on qualifying purchases)
Where is Satay from?
Satay with Peanut Sauce is prevalent throughout Southeast Asia. On nearly every street corner from Jakarta to Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur you can find a satay vendor. Crouched low on their heels, over a coal braizer, smiling men and women will cook skewers of marinated meat for just a couple of ringget or baht. Each vendor, of course, has his or her own marinade recipe and peanut sauce. satay is originally from Indonesia, but if you look at a map, you can easily see how this delicious street food has taken over most of the peninsula with each region having different recipes and meats. You’ll also find different forms of satay in Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and the Philippines.
What’s the difference between Satay and Sate?
Since we had spent the majority of our honeymoon in South East Asia, we ate a lot of satay and sate. It’s spelled differently depending on where you are, with ‘Satay” being the spelling used in Indonesia and “Sate” more common in Malaysia. Other than that, each region has it’s own recipe. We spent about two weeks in Indonesia and loved the Balinese Breakfasts, and about 4 days in Singapore. The Singapore Hot Pot is fabulous!
What Kind of Meat is Used in Satay?
While chicken is most commonly used for satay, beef, lamb and and less commonly pork are also used. In our travels, we ate mostly chicken or beef satay. Pork very rare in both Malaysia and Indonesia since they are both predominately Muslim countries.
What’s in Satay Marinade?
While some satay marinades have soy sauce, I’ve substituted coconut aminos, so that it will be paleo, Whole30 compliant and Keto friendly. If you want a more traditional satay marinade, and have no issues with soy sauce, feel free to use it. Another key ingredient is curry powder or curry paste.
This Chicken Satay recipe is adapted from Craig Claibourne’s The New York Times Cook Book.
I’ve made this recipe so many times, the spine is cracked and broken right at that page. I’ve recently updated the recipe, made several changes with Paleo friendly and Whole30 compliant options. I substituted cashews for the peanuts (a legume, therefore not Paleo), with no discernible difference. I also substituted coconut aminos for the soy sauce, and coconut sugar for the table sugar. I’ve also use jarred, pre-roasted red bell peppers, rather than roasting them at home. None of these changes affected the flavor, and after making it again last weekend for a party, it got rave reviews. If you want to try roasting bell peppers or chile peppers, here’s my tutorial.
What Can I Substitute for Peanut Sauce?
That’s a great question! I made it for years just like the recipe, including roasting the red bell peppers for the sauce. Since we no longer eat peanut butter, I’ve been substituting cashew butter. Almond butter would work as well!
How Do You Thread Chicken Satay?
Since most of the satay we ate was one the streets, the chicken was usually cut into long strips and then threaded through most of the skewer, expect each person to eat about 4-5 skewers for a dinner serving. When serving this as an appetizer, keep in mind that they should be able to eat the skewer in one bite. In that case, push a smaller amount of chicken towards the tip of the skewer.
Can I make Chicken Satay and Peanut Sauce Ahead of Time?
Yes! If you’re planning a party, or just dinner for your family, you can make the peanut (cashew) sauce a day or even several days ahead of time and store in a jar in the refrigerator. The marinade can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for several days. The chicken should marinate from one to no more than 12 hours.
- 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon or lime juice
- 2 Tablespoons coconut aminos (or gluten free soy sauce or tamari if not Paleo)
- 1 Tablespoon curry powder
- 2 teaspoons coconut sugar (Omit for Whole30, or can use regular sugar if not Paleo or Whole30)
- Bamboo skewers soaked in water for 30 min to keep them from burning.
- Mix all ingredients together and pour over chicken pieces.
- Marinate chicken for a minimum of one hour and up to 12 hours.
- Cut chicken in thin strips. Thread on bamboo skewers.
- Grill skewers for a few minutes on each side. They can cook pretty quickly, depending on how thick the meat is. About 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve with Cashew Sauce.
Serve the chicken satay with this Cashew (or Peanut) Sauce…
Peanut Sauce (or Cashew Sauce)
- Heat oil in skillet over medium heat, add shallots, cook briefly, stirring. Add the curry powder, or paste and cook briefly.
- Remove from heat and add peppers, cashew butter, and coconut milk or cream.
- Let simmer on low for about 5 minutes.
- Puree in a food processor or blender.
- Thin with water or chicken stock if too thick. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
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