Thai Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce
My first big adult trip out of the country was to Southeast Asia. Well no that is kind of lie. I had been out of the country before but this trip seemed different. Southeast Asia was my first trip where everything was different - the food, the scenery, the sounds, the smells. To date it is still one of my favorite trips ever. That part of the world is gorgeous and hot, and crowded and filled with food flavors that make me happy. Between the spiciness, the boldness and the new exotic flavors, I was in heaven. To this day I prefer Thai food or Vietnamese food over most flavors - they are just more exciting and fresh. There is so much flavor there.
I think what made this trip different is that it was dominated by food in a way that previous trips hadn't been. By the time we took that trip I knew I loved food and used food as a way to explore this new world. A lot of my memories from that trip were shaped by food - like being on a boat in the north of Vietnam in Ha Long Bay where it seemed hotter than that face of the sun but the chef on this gorgeous old "junk boat" made the most incredible masterpieces of fruit art. Or having my first bowl of pho and being instantly cured of the typical travel sickness. Or my first Vietnamese iced coffee from a street vendor. Or in Cambodia having the best curry that probably cost 50 cents but was so full of richness and flavors. Or in Laos having my first bun mee sandwich while sitting on a street curb. Or in Thailand having the incredible cashew chicken that was a crispy savory perfection. OR the best pad see ew literally in a mall food court mall. Or eating pad Thai in the darkness during a blackout on the small island of Ko Toa because they couldn't generate enough electricity for the whole island. The list could go on and on. (there were also some back food memories from that trip but lets not go there, right!?!)
This trip just seemed to fortify my love of food and what you can explore through food. So when thinking about what to make or eat these days my mind always seems to go to the flavors of Southeast Asia.
This Thai chicken satay combines all of the flavors that I love in Southeast cooking (and yes I know there are a lot them ) It also involves my love of coconut milk. I love using coconut milk in so many dishes because it adds a sweet richness to whatever is begin cook - savory and sweet. And don't get me started on this spicy peanut situation. I could drink that sauce it is so freaking good. Peanut butter is mixed with lime juice, soy sauce and all sorts of other yummy flavors. Be prepared to be obsessed.
Couple notes about this recipe:
First off if you can’t find lemongrass just skip it. Also if you are watching your sugar, you can skip that too or replace with honey.
The part that takes the longest in the recipe is creating the marinade. Feel free to make that a couple days before and store in refrigerator until ready to use.
You can marinate this chicken for up for 24 hours, so to make life a little easier, throw the chicken in the marinade the night before you are ready to eat, then when you are ready to eat simply thread on a skewer and broil!
Thai Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce
For the chicken
- 1 stalk lemongrass, thinly chopped
- 2 Tbs. vegetable oil (or any other neutral oil)
- 2 Tbs. fish sauce
- 2 tsp. light brown sugar (optional)
- Juice and zest from 1 lime
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs cut into 1" pieces
For the spicy peanut sauce (inspired by this serious eats recipe)
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/3 cup hot water plus more if needed
- 1 tsp. Thai red or green curry paste
- 1Tbs. light brown sugar or honey (optional)
- 1 Tbs. soy sauce
- 1 Tbs rice vinegar
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 tsp. fish sauce
- Sriracha to taste
Make the chicken satay: Combine the lemongrass, oil, fish sauce, sugar, lime zest and juice,, garlic, turmeric, coriander, and coconut milk in a large bowl and whisk well to combine. Add chicken and marinate for at least an hour or up to 24 hours.
Soak 6 bamboo skewers for at least 30 minutes in water. Divide chicken among the skewers. Pre-heat oven to broil or heat grill/grill pan to medium high. Once pre-heated cook the chicken for about 8 to 10 minutes on a grill pan or 10 to 12 minutes under the broiler. (If using the broiler method, make sure to keep an eye on them if your broiler runs how)
While the chicken is cooking make the peanut sauce. In a medium sized bowl combine the peanut butter, hot water, curry paste, sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, sesame oil, fish sauce and Sriracha to taste. Stir well adding more water if necessary to thin it out.
Serve the peanut sauce alongside the chicken.