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Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

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Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce, one of my favourite dishes. Whether you spell it satay or sate people love this Indonesian specialty. Delightful little skewers of juicy cooked meat served with creamy peanut sauce. If you love the taste but think the skewers are too much effort skip to the bottom of this post to read my hacks for an everyday version of this satay.

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Indonesian Chicken Satay

I have fond memories of eating chicken satay with peanut sauce on the island of Bali many years ago. Every day was a sunny 32°C with a warm ocean breeze. The narrow streets were dotted with food vendors fanning the grill on their satay cart to keep the heat at the perfect cooking temperature. Each vendor had his own variation of satay and his own style of serving it. I remember placing an order and watching the vendor blob peanut butter and hot sauce in the center of brown butcher paper, grab two skewers of meat off the grill and use them to mix the sauce right before my eyes. He swiftly folded the paper around the meat and handed me a package of the most delicious, succulent chicken satay I had ever tasted. I think of that satay every time I make this recipe.

Indonesian Specialty Ingredients

There are two specialty ingredients in this recipe, kecap manis and tamarind.

Kecap manis, sometimes spelled ketjap manis, is a sweet, thick Indonesian soy sauce. Any purchased kecap manis I have found contains wheat so you have two choices. You can make it from scratch using GF soy sauce or substitute as indicated in the recipe with GF soy sauce and a bit of brown sugar. This recipe for homemade kecap manis will last in the cupboard for a year…but cook with it and you will fall in love with the taste.

Gluten Free Kecap Manis
Gluten Free Kecap Manis -photo credit Jim Little

Tamarind refers to the pod of the tamarind tree which contains seeds covered by a fleshy pulp. It adds a unique fruity sourness to many dishes and is naturally gluten free. It is available in Asian and Indian specialty shops sold as tamarind concentrate, a thick dark paste in small plastic tubs or as tamarind pulp, a pliable block wrapped in plastic. Read this post for more on tamarind.

Tamarind Concentrate vs Tamarind Paste
Tamarind Concentrate vs Tamarind Paste -photo credit Jim Little

From Everyday to Gourmet – Chicken Satay

At home where there are no street vendors we make our own chicken, beef and pork satay. When I am in a hurry I sometimes skewer whole, boneless chicken thighs and I might skip the marinade altogether. Metal skewers make it easies since they don’t require soaking. I use kecap manis but I have given you a substitute in the recipe if you want to try it right away. These are all everyday kitchen hacks for this recipe that I can live with.

When I am entertaining I don’t take shortcuts. When menu planning I often choose tried-and-true recipes like this one that won’t add to the stress of entertaining. I know if I follow the steps it will turn out perfectly. So I soak the wooden skewers and take care not to burn them during the cooking. I cut the meat into small pieces and marinate it overnight. I use the homemade kecap manis for the most authentic version of peanut sauce. And lastly, for a stunning, gourmet presentation I will serve the satay on a beautiful platter and decorate it with colourful flowers.

Enjoy it any way you like. In the comments below I’d love to hear what you thought.

A Travel Tale – Bali

From time to time I write a guest post for my friend Sue over at Travel Tales of Life. This is one I wrote about our trip to Bali.

Indonesian Chicken Satay Recipe – Bali


2 lb boneless chicken, beef or pork
1/4 cup tamarind paste (OR 1 Tbsp tamarind concentrate and 2 Tbsp boiling water)
2 tsp cumin
4 shallots, sliced (or 1/4 cup chopped onion)
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp hot red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp GF soy sauce
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup peanut butter
¼ cup kecap manis (OR 3½ Tbsp GF soy sauce and ½ Tbsp brown sugar)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1½ Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
½-1 tsp hot red pepper flakes
¾ cup boiling water


Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 4 hours.
Cut meat into small pieces and place in large container or bag for marinating.
Using a food processor or immersion blender combine all marinade ingredients and process to a smooth paste. Pour over meat and marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or overnight in the fridge.
Thread meat on skewers. Cook on the barbecue or under the broiler until done, approximately 6 minutes depending on the size of the pieces. Serve with peanut sauce.
In a large glass measuring cup combine peanut butter, kecap manis, garlic, brown sugar, lemon juice and hot pepper. Add the boiling water and whisk until smooth.Keeps in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.


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